Readability Anyone Using Microsoft Word Term Paper

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McCloskey identified some features of bad writing; these included verbosity, banal words and distracting footnotes. While the readability indices may limit verbosity, they cannot distinguish the banal, nor do they deal with such distractions as footnotes (Laband 1992). While Laband was dealing specifically with readability and economics texts, it would seem that any application of readability in that genre would certainly extend, and perhaps doubly so, to less esoteric fields, such as high school literature, for example. Indeed, these and more of the rubrics espoused by McCloskey have been independently verified as signaling desirable writing formats (Laband 1992).

Purpose of readability indices

A survey of the literature finds that most readability assessments are being used for teaching students with various sorts of reading or learning disabilities, or at least, they were useful to the teachers attempting to measure reading comprehension. "Because the passages used in the retell were controlled for readability (i.e., word and sentence length), this measure provided an opportunity to examine change in passage-level comprehension independent of word-level reading ability" (Manset-Williamson and Nelson 2005, 59+).

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When readability is a factor in other areas of education, such as in the training of social workers, for example, perhaps it should be of concern that the readability level of a crucial scale, the Social Worker Empowerment scale (SWE) that is used in determining social worker's self-efficacy was only at Flesch-Kincaid grade level 6.5 (Holden et al. 2003).

Current cautions concerning readability tests

Term Paper on Readability Anyone Using Microsoft Word Assignment

It was noted earlier that educators are not nearly as enthusiastic about readability measures as they once were, having noticed that the content was 'dumbed down' along with the words and sentence structure. Another commentator expressed concerns about forcing student to read colorless, artificial prose, calling it "pointless at best" and "at worse, it wastes valuable time that could be spent in more profitable ways and risks boring the children and conveying to them that there is nothing interesting to be learned in books, or even in school" (Anderson et al. 1984). These researchers also contend that using bona fide children's literature in primary grades might even motivate them sufficiently that, when they are studying social work, they would not be reading at a grade school level, having been able to expand their comprehension through reading writing, not artificially constructed pseudo-stories. Anderson et al. note:

For children who come to first grade with little experience with books, learning to read may not be very attractive, especially if their encounters with text lead them to believe that all that is in store for them if they do learn to read is dull little stories (or worse, non-stories with no inside view and no conflict) in increasingly smaller print. Children who come to first grade motivated to learn to read will probably learn to read regardless of what method and materials are used, although they may become restless and "turned off" when they perceive the enormous gap between what their parents read to them at home and what they are expected to read in school (1984, 177).

They took serious issue with the concept that children can be taught in today's world using standards that were artificially developed and imposed more than half a century ago (Anderson et al. 1984).

Even beyond academia, there appears to be a backlash against 'readability.' Vassallo (1993) examined the impetus toward using a form of English known as E-Prime, a form that eliminates the use of the verb to be in all its forms because it "may create confusion when unintentionally used in an absolute sense" (484+). Vassallo continued to believe that excising 'to be' from English would force confrontation of "sloppiness, laziness, fuzziness, blandness, imprecision, simplistic generalization, and a half dozen other all too frequent characteristics of casual prose" but admitted that some had told him that the entire notice "smacks of eccentricity and, at best, focuses on a relatively minor issue in writing" (Vassallo 1993, 484+).

Summary

Readability is a limited and limiting concept. Readability measures are overly concerned with simplifying vocabulary and usage to the point of creating bland documents no one would want to read, least of all a small child whose interest must be maintained in the subject matter at hand. Using readability tests for writing, while thought to be useful by some by encouraging editing and refinement, also ignore the fact that, if there are no worthy thoughts underlying the writing, that writing will never be great. The Gettysburg Address was great because it expressed cogent ideas and passionate emotion; few academic subjects inherently contain those elements and thus risk being not only unenlightening, but boring at the same time if they are subjected to readability formulae. Moreover, the fact that readability levels in professional arenas are so low indicts the past use of the formulae. Finally, Vassallo, in making… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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