ERIC Number: ED186898
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Psycholinguistics and Readability: The Cognitive Reality of the Reader.
Swearingen, C. J.
Modeling the process of communication through fictive constructions of audience is as much a part of teaching writing as is imparting rules for grammar and organization. A historical review of rhetorical theory and the goals of writing instruction delineates the shift away from traditional, fuzzy conceptions of audience to more carefully researched models of conceptualization, discourse structure, and comprehensibility. But the question remains of how to apply these theories of a text's readability in the writing classroom. The historical evidence shows that descriptions of texts do not translate very readily into prescriptions for writing, because the prescriptions derived from readability are questionably simplistic and constraining. Nevertheless, understanding the psychological principles that govern readability may be a different and quite valid objective for students. Just as linguistic competence is an intriguing area of inquiry, studying readability can be a means of engaging student interest in the mental processes that are involved in interactions between authors, products, and audiences. Teachers should be careful to distinguish this writing goal from the very different goal of teaching students to compose clear, correct, and engaging discourse. (RL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Audience Awareness
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (31st, Washington, DC, March 13-15, 1980).