ERIC Number: ED157015
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1978-May
Reference Count: N/A
Effects of Polysemous Words on Sentence Comprehension. Technical Report No. 85.
Mason, Jana M.; And Others
The effect on comprehension of words containing more than one meaning was studied. In experiment one, subjects in grades four, five, and six were assessed on their ability to recall polysemous words and identify their meanings after having read them in sentence contexts. When words were assigned their primary sense in the sentences, subjects remembered them and their meanings better than when they had been used in a secondary sense. There were reading ability effects but no grade differences. Experiments two and three confirmed the inability of third and fourth grade children to use context to identify secondary meanings of words. Experiment three showed, in addition, that children cannot assess accurately whether they have chosen a correct meaning for a word. The three experiments indicate that children in elementary school frequently misremember the context when a secondary meaning of the word is referenced in a sentence and also fail to choose correct secondary meanings. It is apparent that the presence of polysemous words in text materials is one source of comprehension difficulty. (Author)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Illinois Univ., Urbana. Center for the Study of Reading.; Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Inc., Cambridge, MA.