The effects of the reader's skill and the difficulty of the text on the perceptual span in reading

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Development of the perceptual span in reading (Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test) was investigated by varying the availability of graphic information in the periphery of vision. 32 low-ability and 32 high-ability 8th-grade readers and 32 skilled adult readers read texts presented in a normal prose format, with a single space between words, and texts typed with 13 letter spaces between words. Removing peripheral information by wide spacing improved comprehension for low-ability Ss but did not affect their overall reading efficiency (the number of questions answered correctly per minute of reading time). Wide spacing decreased the reading efficiency of high-ability 8th graders and adult Ss. The texts were of 2 levels of difficulty. It was hypothesized that Ss would employ a larger span of perception with the easy text. The wide spacing of words did not produce greater decrement of reading efficiency with the easy text, suggesting that the perceptual span may increase as reading skill develops but does not change under the influence of momentary task variables. (15 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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