chapter  6
36 Pages

Assessment in Reading

SOME HISTORY The Beginnings of Reading Assessment The formal assessment of reading as a cognitive activity probably originated in the Leipzig psychological laboratory of Wilhelm Wundt around 1880 (see Venezky's chapter in this volume). James McKeen Cattell was Wundt's research assistant in his attempts to measure the speed and nature of mental events. While reading per se was not the focus of this work, Cattell was· concerned with word and letter perception and the standardization of tasks with which to measure this perception (Cattell, 1886). Around the same time, Javal (1879, cited in Anderson & Dearborn, 1952) was relating eye movements to the reading process. Javal simply watched readers' eyes and described how the eyes moved "par saccades." By making a small hole in the middle of a page, Miles and Segal (1929) observed eye movements as a clinical assessment method. This technique was later developed as an assessment device called the Ophthalm-O-Graph (American Optical Company, 1936). The corneal reflection method, first used by Dodge and Cline (1901), is still in use in the investigation of dyslexia (Pavlidis, 1981). In 1897, Quantz began the systematic study of eye-voice span, which was later used as a form of assessment of reading ability in experimental work (e.g., Buswell, 1920).