ERIC Number: ED192298
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1980-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
The Effects of Word Frequency, Sentence Length and Sentence Structure on the Readability of Two College Textbook Passages.
Johnson, Linda L.
A study was conducted to determine the effects of sentence length, sentence structure, and word frequency on the readability of textbook prose. Specifically, the study assessed the extent to which the factors, taken alone or in combination, affected the readability of two 1,000-word college textbook passages when the content remained the same. Two existing textbook passages were rewritten to create eight different versions of each passage: one pair of passages was written with a shorter average sentence length than the original, a second pair contained more frequently occurring synonyms substituted for some of the infrequently occurring words in the original, and a third pair was composed of modified sentence structures. The remaining pairs included combinations of these three readability factors. At the first of two sessions, 336 high school seniors read a passage about cells or computers, recorded their reading times, responded to measures of interest and comprehension, then read a second passage. The second passage, on the other topic, was assessed for retention a week later. Results showed that shortening the averaging sentence length, changing the sentence structures, and altering word frequency did not improve the reading efficiency of the students, nor did they affect the students' interest in or their comprehension of the passages. (Author/FL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Wisconsin Univ., Madison. Research and Development Center for Individualized Schooling.