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Three Aspects of Reading Comprehension as Measured by Tests of Different Lengths

Derrick, Clarence
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Factor Structure, Item Analysis, Reading comprehension., Reading Tests, Test Format, Test Length


This research was designed: (1) to investigate the relationships among commonly referred to aspects of reading comprehension; and (2) to study the effects of varying the lengths of the reading selections upon which test questions are based. After analysis of the intercorrelations of nine subtests, the conclusion is drawn that this study has not revealed statistically significant differences among three aspects of reading comprehension defined as (A) the ability to answer factual questions; (B) the ability to read-between-the-lines; and (C) the ability to make critical judgments. This finding corroborates the conclusions of similar studies by Conant, Harris, and Hunt, who concluded that reading comprehension may be described as a function of a single general factor called "reading ability." The second problem which has been the subject of more speculation than research, was studied by a somewhat less statistical method. A successful attempt was made to construct three tests comparable in their coverage of the outlined reading skills even though each of the tests used reading selections which varied markedly in length. Reasonably high correlations among the tests were to be expected. This proved to be the case and no group factors associated with the tests were found. The two major hypotheses of differences among aspects of reading comprehension and among tests based on passages of different lengths are, therefore, not supported.

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