Monday, November 01, 2010

Research brief: Neldson-Denny Reading Test may overestimate reading comprehension

The Nelson-Denny Ready Test is a popular test used to assess reading comprehension in college-aged adults. The test requires examinees to read passages and then answer multiple-point comprehension questions. Of course, any time there is a multiple-answer response format one needs to be concerned about guessing.

A new study (Coleman et al, 2010) raises significant concerns about the accuracy of the NDRT. In university students with reading problems and students at-risk, it was found that without even reading the passages, individuals could correctly answer many of the comprehension questions above chance guessing.

On the NDRT there is a 20% chance of individuals correctly guessing the correct answer from among the multiple point answers. In this study individuals were able to answer the questions (depending on the form) successfully at 30% to 50% levels---well above the 20% chance level of guessing. The study highlights the problem of passage dependent/independent answers to reading tests using a multiple choice format. The results also suggest that the NDRT may tend to provide an overestimate of an individuals reading comprehension.

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Joel said...

But if the scores are compared to average performance, this should not matter: everyone is equally advantaged by being able to guess.

Kevin McGrew said...

Excellent comment and observation. I feel embarrassed not to have caught that myself.

Joel said...

Easy to miss. Also, in order to guess at above chance levels, you probably need to have read and comprehended the multiple choice question.