Handbook of Reading Research

By P. David Pearson | Go to book overview

22
READABILITY
George R. Klare

INTRODUCTION
The term readable may refer to any one of three characteristics of reading matter:
1. Legibility, of either the handwriting or the typography.
2. Ease of reading, owing to the interest-value of the writing.
3. Ease of understanding, owing to the style of writing.

Though the first and second meanings still occur, usage now clearly favors the third meaning, especially in the field of reading. This chapter on readability, thus, concerns itself with qualities of writing which are related to reader comprehension.

The importance of being able to understand seems so obvious as to need no emphasis. Writers in general and teachers in particular have long acknowledged this. The importance of readability as an area of research and the rationale for discussing it rests instead upon three other related considerations.

First, the amount of reading our technological society requires for success— or even survival—has been growing rapidly. Comparing job-related reading requirements for the last half century or so provides some dramatic examples. The field of aviation offers several. The “flight manual” provided for the Curtiss “pusher” airplane of 1911 was barely one-page long; by contrast, the U. S. Navy's Cougar aircraft of 1952 required 1800 pages of documentation and the modern F-14 requires 260,000 pages. Overall, the Navy listed 25 million pages of technical manuals in use in 1979 and adds or revises 300,000 to 500,000 pages annually (Naval Ocean Systems Center, 1979). The U. S. Government itself now prints about 1 million words of regulations and notices in the Federal Register on an average day (New York Times, 1977). Many of these become part of the myriad forms and documents which must be read and/or filled out by citizens for such social programs as health, unemployment, and retirement payments. A survey

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Handbook of Reading Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Contributors ix
  • Foreword xix
  • Preface xxi
  • Part One - Methodological Issues 1
  • 1 - The History of Reading Research 3
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 2 - Current Traditions of Reading Research 39
  • References *
  • 3 - Design and Analysis of Experiments 63
  • References *
  • 4 - Ethnographic Approaches to Reading Research 91
  • References *
  • 5 - Examples from Word Recognition 111
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 6 - Assessment in Reading 147
  • References *
  • Part Two - Basic Processes: the State of the Art 183
  • 7 - Models of the Reading Process 185
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 8 - Word Recognition 225
  • References *
  • 9 - A Schema-Theoretic View of Basic Processes in Reading Comprehension 255
  • References *
  • 10 - Listening and Reading 293
  • References *
  • 11 - The Structure of Text 319
  • References *
  • 12 - Metacognitive Skills and Reading 353
  • References *
  • 13 - Directions in the Sociolinguistic Study of Reading 395
  • References *
  • 14 - Social and Motivational Influences on Reading 423
  • Notes 443
  • References *
  • 15 - Understanding Figurative Language 453
  • References *
  • 16 - Individual Differences and Underlying Cognitive Processes in Reading 471
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • Part Three - Instructional Practices: the State of the Art 503
  • 17 - Early Reading from a Developmental Perspective 505
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 18 - From Debate to Reformation 545
  • Notes 575
  • References *
  • 19 - Word Identification 583
  • References *
  • 20 - Research on Teaching Reading Comprehension 609
  • References *
  • 21 - Studying 657
  • References *
  • 22 - Readability 681
  • References *
  • 23 - Classroom Instruction in Reading 745
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 24 - Managing Instruction 799
  • References *
  • 25 - Oral Reading 829
  • References *
  • Author Index 865
  • Subject Index 891
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