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ERIC Number: EJ1032468
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jun
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Applying the Multilevel Framework of Discourse Comprehension to Evaluate the Text Characteristics of General Chemistry Textbooks
Pyburn, Daniel T.; Pazicni, Samuel
Journal of Chemical Education, v91 n6 p778-783 Jun 2014
Prior chemistry education research has demonstrated a relationship between student reading skill and general chemistry course performance. In addition to student characteristics, however, the qualities of the learning materials with which students interact also impact student learning. For example, low-knowledge students benefit from texts that explicitly state relationships between ideas, namely, those that possess high cohesion. Such texts limit the number of inferences a student must draw: a practice crucial for students lacking the requisite prior knowledge to fill in conceptual gaps. In this study, five best-selling general chemistry texts were analyzed using Coh-Metrix, a tool created to measure the linguistic characteristics of discourse and text. Our results constitute a survey of five measures of text difficulty: narrativity, syntactic simplicity, word concreteness, referential cohesion, and deep cohesion. Statistically significant differences were found when comparing the cohesion of the chemistry texts. Therefore, some texts may be more optimal for low-knowledge students than the others. In addition, four of the five texts had an optimal distribution of cohesion. This work also demonstrates the utility of Coh-Metrix as a tool that instructors can use to assess the appropriateness of learning materials for students based on their reading skill and prior chemistry knowledge.
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A