Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]

Re: [Phys-l] More Difficult to Read Text Leads to Better Retention

Some subscribers to Phys-L and Physoc might be interested in a post "Re: More
Difficult to Read Text Leads to Better Retention" [Hake (2010)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: PhysLrnR's Bill Goffe alerted subscribers to an "Economist"
report <> on an article "Fortune Favors the Bold
(and the Italicized): Effects of Disfluency on Educational Outcomes"
(Oppenheimer et al. (2010, <>).

In research conducted both in the lab and in chemistry, physics,
English, and history classrooms, Oppenheimer et al. (2010) found that
information made "disfluent" with difficult-to-read fonts (12-point
Comic Sans MS 75% greyscale and 12-point Bodoni MT 75% greyscale)
enhanced "learning" over more fluent information in easy-to-read
16-point Arial pure-black font.

But classroom "learning" was measured by "normal assessment tests"
which usually gauge only lower-level learning such as
rote-memorization, recipe following, and algorithmic problem-solving.

One might wonder, for example, if, after textbook coverage of
Newtonian mechanics, there would be an increase of posttest scores on
the conceptually oriented "Force Concept Inventory" (FCI) [Halloun &
Hestenes (1992)] for text material with more:

(a) difficult-to-read fonts,

(b) "Fog" as measured by the "Gunning Fog Index", or

(c) structural complexity [as studied by e.g., McNamara, Kintsch, Songer,
& Kintsch (1996) in "Are good texts always better? Text coherence,
background knowledge, and levels of understanding in learning from

To access the complete 20 kB post please click on <>.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References which Recognize the
Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)

"Easy reading is damned hard writing."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
- George Bernard Shaw

Hake, R.R. 2010. "Re: More Difficult to Read Text Leads to Better Retention." online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at <>. Post of 27 Oct 2010 17:14:33-0700 to AERA-L, Net-Gold, and PhysLrnR. The abstract and link to the complete post are being transmitted to various discussion lists and are also on my blog "HakeEdStuff" at <> with a provision for comments.