Document Type



Most studies of reading have dealt with one or the other of two factors involved: (a) speed and (b.) comprehension. The psychological act of obtaining meaning from the printed page is very involved, as in any process of symbolic interpretation. It is here contended that either of the two factors cited is in itself inadequate and that they must be combined to give a meaningful index of accomplishment. Such a concept is herein described as the reading efficiency index and is obtained by multiplying the rate in words per minute by the comprehension calculated in per cent. It compares favorably with commercial practices of assaying samples of ore, grain, foodstuffs or other materials to determine the net value of a lot or consignment. In reading one whose speed is 450 words a minute may have 95 per cent comprehension or he may have 10 per cent comprehension. While comprehension and speed are somewhat positively correlated, it is by no means a perfect relationship. Studies carried on at Iowa State College lead us to suggest that each individual has an optional rate of reading, within any given period of time, at which he will obtain the most for his time and effort. The concept proposed is found useful in helping determine the approximate limits and scope of the optimum. The immediate antecedents, or so-called causes, of poor reading need not be discussed here. Whether they are peripheral or central in origin is not germane to the present problem since it may be assumed that learning would take place in either case.

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Journal Title

Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science





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©1944 Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.



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