Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Textbook Comprehensibility


Question: Can textbooks be revised in order to help students recall what they read?

Answer: Two linguists, two college writing instructors and two Time-Life editors revised the textbook passages. No doubt about which revisions were most memorable to students—the Time-Life editors—by a large margin—“…a very large and statistically reliable improvement.”

Quote: “To summarize, the two attempts to change only structure failed to have any effect; the two attempts to change some content but to change it only for the purpose of making the passages more coherent produced substantial improvement; and the two attempts to attend to style as well as content—attempts directed at enlivening the passages, giving them more verve, making them less impersonal, and providing more human drama—produced by far the strongest effects.” P. 256.

Comment: Who can doubt that Time-Life editors know how to make the contents of those magazines interesting. Textbook writers take note! RayS.

Title: “Some Characteristics of Memorable Expository Writing: Effects of Revisions by Writers with Different Backgrounds.” MF Graves, et al. Research in the Teaching of English (October 1988), pp. 242-265.

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