Paper No. 18
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
ASSESSING THE READABILITY OF GEOSCIENCE TEXTBOOKS, LABORATORY MANUALS, AND SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS
Reading materials used in undergraduate geoscience classes have not received the same attention in the literature as those used in secondary schools. Additionally, reports critical of college textbooks and their prose are common. To assess both problems and determine the readability of assignments and texts used by geoscience faculty at UNC Charlotte a readability study was conducted on the most commonly used textbooks, laboratory manuals, and supplemental materials (magazine/journal articles). The Flesch-Kincaid readability test was used to measure the reading grade level for nine textbooks, three self-published laboratory manuals, and six magazines/journals from introductory and upper-level undergraduate courses. While seven of the nine textbooks were within one grade-level of the typical students enrolled in the courses, and all lab manuals were found to be at the appropriate reading levels, the peer-reviewed journals consistently had reading grade levels several years above the students, suggesting they should be assigned with caution or guidance. The most challenging reading grade levels were measured in Quaternary Research, Geology, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, and the Geological Society of America Bulletin.