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A psycholinguistic investigation of the cloze responses of grade eight students Fraser, Janet Mary


This study, a partial replication of Cram (1980), investigated the function of exact and non-exact replacements of cloze responses in the assessment of reading comprehension. Two modes of discourse, narrative fiction and expository prose, were examined. Subjects were proficient and less proficient grade eight students. Key theoretical assumptions guiding the research stemmed from psycholinguistics; that reading involves responses to the graphophonemic, syntactic, and semantic cue systems of language (Goodman, 1976a); and from discourse analysis theory; that a 'schema' or cognitive map directs the reader in the search for discourse cues (Winograd, 1977). Subjects were completing grade eight (N = 61) in a small junior secondary school in Surrey, British Columbia. Only subjects whose primary language was English, qualified. Good (N = 19) and poor (N = 19) readers were identified from the sum of scores on the comprehension and vocabulary subtests of the "Nelison Reading Skills Test" (1977). Exact replacements (E.R.'s) of 61 subjects were examined. Non-exact replacements (N.E.R.'s) of good (N = 19) and poor (N = 19) readers were also analysed. Each subject completed two cloze tasks: a narrative fiction and an expository prose, from the "British Columbia Reading Assessment 1977, Grade 8". Responses were examined for exact match to the author's word (Bormuth, 1976). An adaptation of the Cram Reading Assessment Method was used to evaluate N.E.R.'s. Statistical procedures included correlation, independent t-tests and two way analysis of variance. Correlations between the standardized measure and exact cloze scores were significant, particularly for the narrative mode. For both good and poor readers, exact narrative scores were significantly greater than exact expository scores. Poor readers were differentiated from good readers. Scores for both good and poor readers on grammatical function, semantic acceptability and discourse acceptability were significantly greater for narrative fiction than expository prose. Poor readers obtained a significantly higher mean on narrative fiction when compared to expository prose on syntactic acceptability. Data based conclusions were (1) cloze comprehension scores differed for narrative fiction and expository prose modes of discourse, and (2) exact cloze scores discriminated between proficiency levels.

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