An Investigation into the Effect of Active and Passive Voice on the Comprehension of Seventh Grade Good and Poor Readers
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AuthorShapiro, Jacqueline M.
KeywordParagraph And Unrelated Sentences Test
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThe purpose of this study was to determine whether active or passive voice of the verb in sentences affects seventh grade readers’ comprehension of those sentences. A total of 40 seventh grade students was obtained from two western New York parochial elementary schools. Results of the Stanford Achievement Test, Form B were used to classify the students as good, average and poor readers. Good readers had a reading comprehension grade equivalent of 8.0 or above, and poor readers a grade equivalent of 6.0 or below. Only the good readers (N = 16) and the poor readers (N = 11) comprised the sample. The total sample was reduced to 27 subjects. The Paragraph and Unrelated Sentences Tests were administered to each student in the sample. The Paragraph Test, constructed by the investigator, consisted of 12 sentences which related a social studies event. Six of the sentences were written in the active voice of the verb and six in the passive voice of the verb. The Unrelated Sentences Test, also constructed by the investigator, consisted of 10 sentences which had no relationship with each other. Five sentences were written in the active voice of the verb and five in the passive voice of the verb. The subjects had to write correct answers to the 10 comprehension questions at the end of each test. The correct responses required that the subjects had comprehended the information in each sentence, in whichever voice it was presented. Phrases or complete sentences were expected as the written responses. There was no time limit on either test, and both were administered at the same session. The data were analyzed using a series of two-tailed t-tests with an alpha level of .05. A significant difference was found between active and passive voice comprehension errors made by both good and poor readers on the Unrelated Sentences Test. There was no significant difference found between active and passive voice comprehension errors made by both good and poor seventh grade readers on the Paragraph Test. The results indicated that passive voice sentences when presented in an unrelated sentences format or in a list were more difficult to comprehend than active voice sentences. Recommendations for classroom teachers as well as implications for further research were given.