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Validation of the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level within the Dutch educational system

Hensel, T.N.C.A. (2014) Validation of the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level within the Dutch educational system.

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Abstract:Although the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is frequently used by researchers in order to estimate the readability of written material, it is barely validated. Therefore, this study investigated whether the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is valid for Dutch teaching material. This validation study consisted of two parts. Firstly, teaching material for the subject Dutch was collected from vmbo, havo and vwo and grades one to four. The assumption was made that teaching material differs between the three types of schools and between the grades. It was assumed that text difficulty rises from vmbo to vwo and from grade one to four. According to the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, the higher the score, the more difficult the text is. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level was applied to a total of 247 texts. The second part of this study is the actual implementation of an experiment. Eight grades (two forms of grades one to four) from havo took part in the experiment. Participants received three texts (one from each type of school) from their own grade with comprehension questions. Two conditions were created by choosing texts with the lowest (easy condition) and highest readability score (difficult condition). Analyses show that the rise of difficulty from vmbo texts to vwo texts is also reflected in the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score. With regard to the four grades, results show that readability scores from third and fourth grade are significantly higher than scores from the first grade. No significant difference between the two conditions was found for the second and fourth class. Results from the experiment suggest that the formula is not an accurate predictor for readability, but can help to select teaching material more easily by classifying the text as easy or difficult to understand. In the first and third grade, significantly fewer wrong answers were given in the easy condition. According to this study, a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score below 8 can be used as a cut-off point for easy texts for havo students. Furthermore, it can be proposed that by applying the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, the selection of teaching material can be enhanced for a target group below the age of 15.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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