ERIC Number: ED266465
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1985-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Cognitive Approaches to the Analysis of Technical Understanding. CDC Technical Report No. 24.
Atwood, N.; And Others
Eighteen naval fire technicians served as subjects in a study using scenarios to simulate a real world task for assessing the readability of general technical texts. The scenario asked subjects to read a segment of text and to explain to a colleague how the particular component described in the passage functioned. Subjects' summaries were assessed on the extent to which both the gist of the passage and specific information were represented. Two experimental variations examined their effects on subjects' summaries in response to the scenario. The first variation involved the text with an original version and a revised version that was simplified using traditional readability indices. The second variation centered on the world knowledge that subjects brought to the task, with three groups of students differing in their amount and type of experience. Results supported the initial distinctions drawn between text versions and experience groups. The revised version was syntactically simpler on a number of dimensions such as readibility level, sentence length, and sentence structure. Furthermore, while the overall semantic content or gist of corresponding segments remained comparable, the revised version was lower in density of ideas, while the ideas presented were higher in hierarchical level and salience than in the original version. Three pages of references conclude the paper. (HOD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Carnegie-Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA. Communications Design Center.