Evaluate Readability of Printed Education Material In Nursing Education

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How to Measure Readability of Printed Education Materials

Evaluate Readability of Printed Education Material In Nursing Education

What Is Readability In Fact for Printed Educational Material,Purpose of Readability of Educational Material In Nursing Education,Measuring Readability By Formulas In Nursing Education,What are Readability Formulas and How They are Formed.

What Is Readability In Fact for Printed Educational Material

    Readability is not a new concept but rather has been a concern of primary and secondary school educators and educational psychologists for years. In the 1940s, there was a great upswing in attempts by educators and reading specialists to develop systematic procedures by which to objectively evaluate reading materials. Readability is defined as “characteristics of reading materials that make material ‘easy’ or ‘difficult to read” (Kahn & Pannbacker, 2000, p.3). Today, more than 40 formulas are available to measure the readability levels of PEMS.

Purpose of Readability of Educational Material In Nursing Education

    Readability indices have been devised to determine the grade level demand of specific written information. Although they can predict a level of reading difficulty of material based on an analysis of sentence structure and word length, they do not account for the inherent individual variables that affect the reader, such as interest in or familiarity with the subject itself or the actual content of the materials (Doak et al., 1996).

Measuring Readability By Formulas In Nursing Education

    Even though materials may have similar readability levels as measured by some formula, not all readers will have equal competence in reading them. For example, a patient with a long standing chronic illness may already be familiar with vocabulary related to the disease and, therefore, may be able to read specific grade level materials much more easily than a newly diagnosed patient, even though both individuals may have equal literacy skill with other types of material (Doak et al., 1985).

    As assessment tools, readability formulas are useful but must be employed with caution because the match between reader and material does not necessarily guarantee comprehension (Aldridge, 2004; Davis et al., 1998). Readability formulas were originally designed as predictive averages to rank the difficulty of books used in specific grades of school not to determine exactly which factors contribute to the difficulty of a text. Educators should exercise caution when assuming that people can or cannot read instructional material simply because a formula based readability score does or does not match their educational level.

    Even though these simple instruments are practical tools for assessment of literacy, their utility is limited because they cannot determine the cause or type of reading and learning problems (Davis et al., 1998). Therefore, although readability formulas are easily applied and have proven useful in determining the reading grade level of a text, when used alone they are not an adequate index of readability (Badarudeen & Sabharwal, 2010; Davis et al., 1998; Doak et al ., 1996; Doak & Doak, 2010).

    Readability formulas are merely one useful step in determining reading ease relative to a specific document. Many suggest researchers using a multimethod approach to ensure readability that is, they suggest applying more than one readability formula to any given piece of written material as well as taking into account the reader and other material variables (Doak et al., 1996; Ley & Florio, 1996). Formula scores are simply rough approximations of text difficulty. Human judgment is always needed in conjunction with formula based estimates to determine the quality of PEMs.

What are Readability Formulas and How They are Formed

    Readability formulas are mathematical equations derived from multiple regression analyzes that measure the readability levels of PEMS by determining the correlation between an author's style of writing and a reader's ability to identify words as printed symbols within a context (Doak et al., 1996). Most of them provide quite accurate grade level estimates, give or take one grade level, with 68% confidence on average. In many respects, a readability formula is like a reading test, except that it does not test people but rather written material (Fry, 1977).

    The first guideline to remember is that read ability formulas should not be the only tool used for assessing PEMs. The second rule is to select readability formulas that have been validated in the reader population for whom the PEM is intended. Several formulas are geared to specific types of materials or population groups (Wang, Miller, Schmitt, & Wen, 2013).

    Ley and Florio (1996) and Meade and Smith (1991) conducted extensive studies of the most commonly used formulas and reported on their reliability and validity when used to measure health-related information. Particularly, the Flesch, Fog, and Fry formulas showed strong correlations with health-based literature (Horner et al., 2000). Further, the Flesch, Fog, and Simplified Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) formulas have proven successful in evaluating Internet-based educational materials (Antonarakis & Kiliaridis, 2009; Laplante Lévesque, Brännström, Andersson, & Lunner, 2012). 

    Because so many read ability formulas are available for assessment of reading levels of PEMs, only those that are relatively simple to work with, are accepted as reliable and valid, and are in widespread use have been chosen for review here.

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