Cloze tests

The cloze test was originally developed in 1953 to measure people's understanding of text. Here, samples from a passage are presented to readers with, say, every sixth word missing. The readers are then required to fill in the missing words.

Technically speaking, if every sixth word is deleted, then six versions should be prepared, with the gaps each starting from a different point.

However, it is more common_prepare one version and perhaps_

to focus the gaps on_words. Whatever the procedure, the _

are scored either:

(a) by_accepting as correct those responses_directly match what the original_actually said, or

(b) by_these together with acceptable synonyms.

As the two scoring methods (a) and (b) correlate highly, it is more objective to use the tougher measure of matching exact words (in this case: 'to', 'even', 'important', 'passages', 'only', 'which' 'author' and 'accepting').

Test scores can be improved by having the gaps more widely dispersed (say every tenth word); by varying the lengths of the gaps to match the lengths of the missing words; by providing the first of the missing letters; by having a selection of words to choose from for each gap; or by having readers work in pairs or small groups. These minor variations, however, do not affect the main purpose of the cloze procedure, which is to assess readers' comprehension of the text and, by inference, its difficulty.

The cloze test can be used by readers both concurrently and retrospectively. It can be presented concurrently (as in the paragraph above) as a test of comprehension, and readers are required to complete it, or it can be presented retrospectively, and readers are asked to complete it after they have first read the original text. In this case the test can serve as a measure of recall as well as comprehension. The cloze test can also be used to assess the effects on readers' comprehension of different textual organisations, readers' prior knowledge and other textual features, such as illustrations, tables and graphs (Reid et al, 1983).

There are few studies using the cloze test with academic text. However, it has been used (along with other measures) to assess the readability of original and revised versions of journal abstracts (Hartley, 1994).

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