Text Complexity – Reader and Task

This post is the final post in a series of three about determining text complexity for matching text to readers. In this short article, we will discuss the final factor in matching text to readers which is the Reader and the Task. These are factors such as how motivated is the student to read the text and what is their knowledge and experience in this topic?  I have seen many a student struggle through a book far above his or her reading level when the motivation to learn more information on a specific topic was high. Another factor to consider is what is the purpose for reading the text?  Why is the reader going to read it?  Will s/he be synthesizing the text to prepare for a debate?  Will s/he need to understand the information and be able to teach it to someone else?  Will the student have to compare and contrast various points of view?  If the student is simply asked to “Read the chapter and answer the questions at the end of the chapter.” it can hardly be a surprise when students have little motivation or interest in so doing.  In fact, research has shown that students who understand the syntax of the English language can find the answer to literal questions without even completely reading the text at all.  Finally, we must ask does the reader have the cognitive skill, language skill and will there be any engagement that will hold the reader to the text long enough for him or her to read the entire text.  In other words, how will we use the text so that we can stimulate interest, help motivate readers to stick with the text and cause them to reflect at higher levels as a result of reading the text? Teachers must consider all three elements (quantitative, qualitative and reader and task) when selecting an appropriate text to match students with appropriate text.

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