ERIC Number: ED214370
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-May
Reference Count: 0
Psycholinguistic Alternatives to Readability Formulas. Document Design Project, Technical Report No. 12.
Holland, V. Melissa
Features are discussed that are critical to the comprehension of texts and that readability formulas cannot handle. The critique and alternative analyses are confined to public and institutional documents and are based on research in cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics. Two types of comprehensibility complications are examined, those dealing with sentence length and syntax, and those dealing with context. It is demonstrated that readability formulas cannot grasp such variables as the effect of syntactical combinations, semantic and pragmatic relationships underlying a paragraph, and awareness of context. Examples of revisions in public documents that take account of factors beyond readability are given at the level of words, sentences, and the whole text. It is recommended that: (1) technical or special terms be tested for comprehension by the target audience; (2) content should be expressed by scenarios where possible; and (3) introductions to documents should be worded in such a way that the user will make the needed connections between items. Generally, use of design guidelines drawn from research into the comprehensibility of language and the usability of documents is recommended to writers, revisers, and evaluators of documents. (AMH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: American Institutes for Research in the Behavioral Sciences, Washington, DC.