About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 7314-7323
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0664

Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain

WEAVING WORDS IN OERS: WORD SELECTION AND READABILITY IN WRITING FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES

G. Agrusti1, V. Damiani2

1LUMSA University (ITALY)
2Roma Tre University (ITALY)
Instructional design in e-learning can include a wide variety of media (audio, visual, interactive) to convey contents and to leverage skills development. However, the majority of learning goals centred on complex tasks (e.g. abstract reasoning, non-reproductive behaviours and problem-solving) are very often expressed into written texts. Even if the growing number of Open Educational Resources (OERs) should per se pledge an higher level of inclusiveness and equity (Wiley, 2010), based on their extensive availability in the Internet, their effectiveness is far from being established on a common agreed basis, especially if referred merely to text-based OERs. Effectiveness of OERs in terms of learning achievement can be verified with pre-/post-test comparisons, but this does not necessarily implies the identification of those features in texts that actually facilitate educational mediation in the absence of the teacher-learner interaction to clarify or integrate meanings.

This paper considers a set of texts produced for a specific disadvantaged group, i.e. low educational achievers at a young age (16-24 year olds), within the context of an e-learning course experience. The e-learning course was devoted to develop transversal skills as literacy and digital literacy into two thematic areas oriented to foster employability (how to write an effective Curriculum Vitae – Learning Unit 01) and self-learning habits (how to search information in the Internet - Learning Unit 02). The goal was to explore how the educational mediation takes place in order to develop transversal competences and basic skills linked to the use of language (Marconi, 1997) and to discuss the assumptions to evaluate the lexical aspects of OERs’ instructional messages. Readability measures for texts are presented (Gulpease index and Read-it lexical indexes) and discussed against the different semantic fields pertaining each learning unit. In both Learning Units readability indices appear to be high and the percentage of vocabulary belonging to the reference dictionary (Vocabolario di Base, De Mauro 1999, 2007) is relevant, even though some low frequency, sub-technical key-terms are included, both in Italian and in English. Analyses on some exemplifying excerpts, in relation to different stimuli and topics, will be presented.

Formative and summative evaluations show a significant improvement in learners’ skills, not only when text readability is good, but also when the lexical difficulty becomes higher as text contains sub-technical vocabulary. Contrary to what could be expected on a common sense basis, these findings reject the need to oversimplify texts for disadvantaged learners. This is in line with previous studies (Nagy, 2011) that demonstrated how replacing one content word in six with a difficult synonym did not massively decrease readers’ comprehension of text as readers tend to have an “economical approach” to text (Eco, 2000). On these outcomes, a set of criteria to write effectiveness textual OER for low achiever students is proposed.
@InProceedings{AGRUSTI2016WEA,
author = {Agrusti, G. and Damiani, V.},
title = {WEAVING WORDS IN OERS: WORD SELECTION AND READABILITY IN WRITING FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES},
series = {9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2016 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-5895-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2016.0664},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2016.0664},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {7314-7323}}
TY - CONF
AU - G. Agrusti AU - V. Damiani
TI - WEAVING WORDS IN OERS: WORD SELECTION AND READABILITY IN WRITING FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES
SN - 978-84-617-5895-1/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2016.0664
PY - 2016
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2016
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2016 Proceedings
SP - 7314
EP - 7323
ER -
G. Agrusti, V. Damiani (2016) WEAVING WORDS IN OERS: WORD SELECTION AND READABILITY IN WRITING FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES, ICERI2016 Proceedings, pp. 7314-7323.
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