Date of Award
Public Administration and Nonprofit Management, M.P.A.
Political Science Department
Dr. Atta Ceesay
Government documents are a necessary part of life for citizens, but the complexity of language and specific jargon can make them substantially challenging to comprehend. Guidelines have been put forth to improve readability of such documents, but the government has lagged in implementing these recommendations. Therefore, the current research aims to determine if modified documents: a) are easier to read; b) are easier to comprehend; and c) require less assistance to understand than the original, unmodified documents. To accomplish this, three focus groups were conducted. Each group read an original government document and one that was modified for readability. Data analysis included descriptive statistics, sign tests, effect sizes, paired sample t-tests, and qualitative explanations to determine outcomes. Results indicated that all documents were significantly more readable with moderate to large effect sizes found. Significant differences were not found, however, for improved comprehension and less required assistance to understand. Future steps should be taken to determine more feasible and parsimonious ways to improve readability and perhaps more importantly, comprehension.
Key words: government documents; readability; comprehension; social security
Lyons, Patrick J. III, "The Impact of Lexical Complexity on the Public’s Understanding of Governmental Communication" (2018). Public Administration Master’s Projects. 28.