Using readability, comprehensibility and lexical coverage to evaluate the suitability of an introductory accountancy textbook to its readership
Keywords: readability, reading comprehension, vocabulary size, higher education
AbstractAt universities, textbooks are still a primary source of course content. However, this can only be efficacious if the intended readers are able to comprehend the content of the textbooks adequately. This study investigated three possible approaches to determining whether the intended readership of a prescribed Introductory Accountancy textbook (Cornelius & Weyers 2011) will be able to make meaning of that textbook. Such an investigation has important implications for authors, publishers of textbooks and subject lecturers prescribing the texts. Readability of the textbook was determined by using the Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level indices, as well as the average of five conveniently calculated grade level reading indices. A Cloze procedure test was administered to a selection of students to determine their reading comprehension of a reading text. Finally, Nations’ Vocabulary Size Test (Nation and Beglar 2007: 9, 11) was used to determine whether the vocabulary size of the selection of students provides adequate lexical coverage of the lexis used in the textbook to enable comprehension of the text. The findings were somewhat conflicting. The readability indices, and to a lesser extent the vocabulary size test, indicated suitability of the textbook to its intended readership. The Cloze test results suggested contradictory findings that users of the textbook will be reading at their frustration level. These conflicting findings are discussed.
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