ERIC Number: ED215330
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1982-May
Reference Count: N/A
The Role of Word Difficulty and Sentence Length in Text Comprehension.
Duffy, Thomas M.; U' Ren, Paula Kabance
The relationship of readability, "readable writing" techniques, and comprehension was evaluated in a series of five experiments involving United States Navy recruits. Eight expository passages from a standardized reading test were revised by using word lists to simplify the vocabulary and a restriction in syntactic structure to simplify the sentences. The passages were presented to recruits in five different conditions in which the reading task (reading-to-do or reading-to-learn), the time allowed for reading, and the comprehension test format (multiple choice or cloze) were varied. Results showed that, with the exception of one instance, the readable writing revisions had no practical effect on comprehension regardless of the reading skills of the recruits. The one positive instance of practical significance was for low ability readers when the reading task was in a reading-to-learn format. The results indicated that readable writing revisions can facilitate comprehension only under very particular circumstances, and that changes in the readability score are not in any way predictive of the changes in comprehension. Thus, a readability formula score is neither an effective guideline nor an effective criterion to impose on a writer. (Materials used in the experiments are appended.) (FL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Navy Personnel Research and Development Center, San Diego, CA.