A text development process to improve the comprehensiblity of educational text

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Virginia Tech


Staff of the Cooperative Extension Service develops and distributes educational publications to inform the public of practical applications of research information. However, many of these publications are written in a technical style that makes them difficult for the average 4-H member and adult leader to understand the subject matter presented. The purpose of this study was to investigate a systematic process for improving the understanding or comprehensibility of these educational publications. A model of a publication development process based on learning principles was created. This study investigated the effectiveness of the model with Extension subject-matter specialists developing publications for 4-H youth. Specifically, this study was conducted in three parts: the model of the text-development process was taught to subject-matter specialists; the specialists in turn used the model to develop educational texts for 4-H youth; and finally comprehensibility testing of the text passages produced by the specialists with 4-H youth members and adult leaders was conducted. This study confirmed that the utilization of learning principles within the text-development process can improve the comprehensibility of subject matter information presented in Extension educational publications.