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ERIC Number: ED154369
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Mar
Pages: 29
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
Reading and Cognitive Capacity Usage: Effects of Text Difficulty.
Britton, Bruce K.; And Others
Three experiments, in which subjects read passages of variable readability, measured "cognitive capacity usage" (the attention level to reading material) by recording by subjects reaction times in a secondary task (responding to a "click"). The data indicated that the easy texts filled cognitive capacity more completely than the difficult texts, while the difficult texts used more "total" cognitive capacity (measured by multiplying the reading time for the entire passage by the reaction time to the click) than the easy texts. Arousal patterns, grammatical theory, and various artifacts do not explain these results as adequately as does a cognitive processing model. In that interpretation, the short term memory ("processor") spaces are always full when easy passages are read. Frequent breakdowns occur, however, in the comprehension processes for difficult passages; the short term memory spaces empty temporarily, and these periodic "breakdowns" leave extra capacity available for response to the secondary task. The multiple linear regression model that was based on the experimental data has a coefficient of determination of .75 for predicting cognitive capacity usage with five text characteristics, including comprehensibility, learnability, and the text's "semantic activeness" (word recognition/recall of content words). (RL)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Toronto, March 27-31, 1978)