When do standard approaches for measuring vocabulary difficulty, syntactic complexity and referential cohesion yield biased estimates of text difficulty?

  • Sheehan K
  • Kostin I
  • Futagi Y
  • 26


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Many widely-used approaches for assessing text difficulty provide
a single prediction equation that is assumed to hold for texts belonging
to a variety of different genres. This paper demonstrates that such
models tend to overpredict the difficulty of informational texts
while simultaneously underpredicting the difficulty of literary texts.
Mechanisms that may account for these effects are examined. Results
suggest that the estimated effects can be traced to certain frequently
used measures of vocabulary difficulty, syntactic complexity and
referential cohesion.

Author-supplied keywords

  • complexity
  • genre
  • readability
  • referential cohesion
  • syntactic
  • vocabulary difficulty

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  • Kathleen M. Sheehan

  • Irene Kostin

  • Yoko Futagi

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