The effect of alternate visual formats on the reading comprehension of fifth graders

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Jones, H. Jon
Cooper, J. David (James David), 1942-
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The purpose of this study was to determine whether the Alternate Visual Formats (AVFs) would cause a significant difference in the subjects' comprehension as compared to their comprehension of a passage in the Traditional Visual Format (TVF). The study used an equal number of male and female subjects that were as homogeneous as possible in terms of: grade levelreading levelsocio-economic statusgeneral academic achievementThe difference in comprehension was measured by having the subjects answer a set of eight multiple choice questions immediately following their reading of each of the three passages. The passages were taken from-,a commercially published Informal Reading Inventory (IRI) and two had their printed formats each modified to a different AVF. The set of questions that were used with each passage came from an initial. pool of twenty-four. This pool was created by modifying the published IRI questions to a multiple choice format and constructing additional questions for each passage. A pilot study was conducted; a point biserial analysis was used to select the questions which were subsequently used in the study. The results of the subjects' performance on these questions were then analyzed.Two methods of analysis were employed to analyze the data. A repeated measures analysis of variance was used to determine whether there was any difference in the subjects' comprehension due to format, sex, or a combination of these factors. The results of this analysis revealed that there was a significant difference in the subjects' comprehension due to format (F= 27.05 at 0.0000 probability). This analysis further indicated that there was no significant difference found when the comprehension of the male and female subjects was compared (F = 1.81 at 0.1894 probability). Neither was there any significant comprehension of a particular form by a particular sex (F = 0.12 at 0.8854 probability). The only significant difference in comprehension was found to be due to form. The second method of analysis was the Newman Keuls procedure which yielded results that showed the subjects were able to comprehend the TVF passage significantly (beyond the .01 level) better than either of the AVF passages. There was no significant difference between the mean scores of the AVF passages.These findings indicate that the AVFs as used in this study both acted to impede the subjects' comprehension to a significant degree. This impediment in comprehension appeared, In this study, to be due to the formats which were used. The findings suggest that printed formats that differ to a greater or lesser degree from a TVF may act to significantly interfere with comprehension.