Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Reading--Ability testing; Reading comprehension;


The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of text difficulty on the comprehension monitoring of above- and below-average readers. The most of the good reader/poor reader comprehension monitoring research, students have been given identical passages. Consequently, the poor readers must read text that is relatively more difficult for them than it is for the better readers.

In this study, 36 fourth graders, 18 above-average readers and 18 below-average readers, were given text on three levels of difficulty, as determined by the Fry readability formula: (a) a second-grade passage for all students, used to reflect the standard practice of administrating the same passage to all subjects; (b) ability-appropriate passages --third-grade for below average readers and fifth-grade for above average readers; and (c) difficult passages --fourth-grade for below-average readers and sixth-grade for above-average readers. Students were asked to find anomalous words placed in the materials, a comprehension-monitoring measure known as the Error Detection Paradigm.

It was hypothesized that: (a) better readers would outperform the poor readers overall; (b) there would be an interaction between reader ability and text difficulty; and (c) text difficulty would affect comprehension monitoring performance. Better readers did outperform the poor readers, but the other hypotheses were not upheld. The difficulty of the material appeared to have no discernible pattern of effect on comprehension monitoring performance, which was idiosyncratic form reader to reader and from passage to passage.

In effort to understand he results, other factors influencing the reading process were examined.These factors included such reader factors as reader knowledge of topic and text structure and text factors such as text structure and considerateness. The results of this study brought into question the validity of using a readability formula to establish text difficulty and of using standardized test scores to assess reader ability.

Further research investigating factors influencing the reading process is indicated. Reading must be viewed as a complex, interactive process involving the reader and the text in the construction of meaning.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Jeannie L. Steele

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 184 pages)



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