Modality specificity of comprehension abilities in the sciences

Eurpean Journal of Psychological AssessmentReference. Schroeders, U., Bucholtz, N., Formazin, M., & Wilhelm, O. (2013). Modality specificity of comprehension abilities in the sciences. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 29, 3–11. doi:10.1027/1015-5759/a000114

Abstract. The measurement of science achievement is often unnecessarily restricted to the presentation of reading comprehension items that are sometimes enriched with graphs, tables, and figures. In a newly developed viewing comprehension task, participants watched short videos covering different science topics and were subsequently asked several multiple-choice comprehension questions. Research questions were whether viewing comprehension (1) can be measured adequately, (2) is perfectly collinear with reading comprehension, and (3) can be regarded as a linear function of reasoning and acquired knowledge. High-school students (N = 216) worked on a paperbased reading comprehension task, a viewing comprehension task delivered on handheld devices, a sciences knowledge test, and three fluid intelligence measures. The data show that, first, the new viewing comprehension test worked psychometrically fine; second, performance in both comprehension tasks was essentially perfectly collinear; third, fluid intelligence and domain-specific knowledge fully accounted for the ability to comprehend texts and videos. We conclude that neither test medium (paper-pencil versus handheld device) nor test modality (reading versus viewing) are decisive for comprehension ability in the natural sciences. Fluid intelligence and, even more strongly, domain-specific knowledge turned out to be exhaustive predictors of comprehension performance.

Reading, listening, and viewing comprehension in English as a foreign language: One or more constructs?

IntelligenceReferences. Schroeders, U., Wilhelm, O., & Bucholtz, N. (2010). Reading, listening, and viewing comprehension in English as a foreign language: One or more constructs? Intelligence, 38, 562–573. doi: 10.1016/j.intell.2010.09.003

Abstract. Receptive foreign language proficiency is usually measured with reading and listening comprehension tasks. A novel approach to assess such proficiencies – viewing comprehension – is based on the presentation of short instructional videos followed by one ormore comprehension questions concerning the preceding video stimulus. In order to evaluate a newly developed viewing comprehension test 485 German high school students completed reading, listening, and viewing comprehension tests, all measuring the receptive proficiency in English as a foreign language. Fluid and crystallized intelligencewere measured as predictors of performance. Relative to traditional comprehension tasks, the viewing comprehension task has similar psychometric qualities. The three comprehension tests are very highly but not perfectly correlated with each other. Relations with fluid and crystallized intelligence show systematic differences between the three comprehension tasks. The high overlap between foreign language comprehensionmeasures and between crystallized intelligence and language comprehension ability can be taken as support for a uni-dimensional interpretation. Implications for the assessment of language proficiency are discussed.