Show Less

Text Complexity and Reading Comprehension Tests


Erik Castello

Based on the analysis of a specially compiled corpus of internationally recognized English as a foreign language (EFL) reading tests at different levels of proficiency, this volume explores the relation between the complexity of written texts and the difficulty of reading comprehension tests. It brings together linguistic investigations into the text-inherent complexity of the tests and a study of the data derived from their administration to groups of Italian university students. The study of text complexity draws on corpus linguistics, text linguistics and systemic functional linguistics. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses are carried out on the language used in the reading texts and in the related tasks that make up the corpus of tests. The assessment of test difficulty, on the other hand, is informed by research on language testing, and, in particular, by findings and methodologies of Classical Test Theory and Item Response Theory. Relevant aspects of these theories are used to analyze and interpret both the data obtained from the administration of the tests and the data collected by means of feedback questionnaires completed by test takers. The application of such diverse methodologies and the subsequent comparison of the results of the analyses has brought out interesting correlations between text-inherent complexity, perceived test difficulty and actual test difficulty.


Show Summary Details
Restricted access

References 309


References Alderson, Charles J. 2000. Assessing Reading. Cambridge: Cam- bridge University Press. Alderson, Charles J. / Banerjee, Jayanti 2001. State of the Art Re- view: Language Testing and Assessment (part one). Language Teaching 34/4, 213-236. Alderson, Charles J. / Banerjee, Jayanti 2002. State of the Art Review: Language Testing and Assessment (part two). Language Teaching 35/2, 79-113. Alderson, Charles J. / Clapham, Caroline / Wall, Dianne 1995. Language Test Construction and Evaluation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Alderson, Charles J. / Cseresznyés, Mária 2003. Into Europe: Read- ing and Use of English. Budapest: Teleki László Foundation. Anderson, Richard C. / Davison, Alice 1988. Conceptual and Empirical Bases of Readability Formulas. In Davison, Alice / Green, Georgia M. (eds), Linguistic Complexity and Text Comprehension: Readability Issues Reconsidered. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, 23-53. Bachman, Lyle F. / Palmer, Adrian S. 1996. Language Testing in Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Baicchi, Annalisa 2003. Relational Complexity of Titles and Texts: A Semiotic Taxonomy. In Merlini Barberesi, Lavinia (ed.), Com- plexity in Language and Text. Pisa: Edizioni PLUS – Università di Pisa, 319-341. Bailey, Kathleen M. 1999. Washback in Language Testing. TOEFL Monograph Series. RM-99-04. , last visited on 16th June 2008. Baker, Rosemary 1997. Classical Test Theory and Item Response Theory in Test Analysis. Special Report No 2: Language Testing Update. Bell, Allan 1991. The Language of News Media. Oxford: Blackwell. 310 Bertuccelli Papi, Marcella 2000. Implicitness in Text and Discourse. Pisa: Edizioni ETS. Biber, Douglas 1988. Variation across Speech and Writing: Cam-...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.