Last Updated on February 16, 2023 by Editorial Team
I saw _ squirrel near the tree.
What would be the correct word to fill in the blank and complete the sentence?
- none of the above
If you immediately thought of option c – ‘a’, or unknowingly read the sentence while including ‘a’ before the squirrel, you just successfully completed a cloze reading question.
An innovative educational tool, cloze reading, has been found to help with the learning, understanding, and testing of various concepts related to language, grammar, vocabulary, etc.
This blog takes a closer look at what this technique entails and also lists various strategies for educators to effectively use it as an educational tool in the classroom.
Decoding Cloze Reading: What does it look like
Cloze Reading, as illustrated above, includes sentences, passages, articles, essays, stories, etc. from which various words have been omitted. The goal of the student is to complete the passage by finding the missing words and filling in the gaps so that the sentence is comprehendible and grammatically correct.
Cloze reading tests can be used as an educational tool that facilitates both learning and assessment. Various areas of language and parts of speech like the correct use of verbs articles, conjunctions, punctuation marks, etc. can be taught and tested using this technique. Additionally, a specific topic or concept-related knowledge can also be tested, for example, a passage outlining the parts of a cell and their functions can be taken and the names can be omitted. This can help in testing the student’s understanding and retention of the functioning of the cell and its different components.
The making of a cloze reading passage usually follows three steps. The first one is to find a passage appropriate for the purpose of the lesson. The second step is to leave the first and last sentences complete and intact so that the student can gauge what the passage is about. The third step includes omitting words related to the topic that is being taught. This is usually done by using a formula, for example, omitting every 8th word, etc.
Strategies to implement cloze reading in the classroom
Cloze Reading can be a useful educational and assessment tool. But, to effectively implement it in the classroom, the educator needs to be mindful of several things. Some suggestions for the same include:
1. Provide a word bank
When the students are just starting out with the cloze reading method or the passage has too many omitted words, a good strategy to adopt could be to either provide several options for each blank or provide a word bank containing answers to all the blanks in the passage. This could give the students an indirect form of guidance to eventually help them learn to complete the passage without any help.
2. Hint with the number of blanks
The number of letters in the missing word can again be a powerful guidance or challenge-enhancing tool if used judiciously. If the student needs extra support, the educator can give hints by not giving a blank of the same length everywhere, but instead, giving one bank per letter. This can help the individual in eliminating certain words. But, if used to denote a particularly difficult synonym of a well-known word, the number of blanks can actually increase the challenge presented by a missing word.
3. Hint with the letters
To provide guidance, but also to simultaneously increase the level of difficulty, the blanks could contain hint letters. The letters could hint at a simple and commonly used word for a lower level of difficulty and a harder, lesser-known synonym of the same for a higher level of difficulty. This again can be a stepping stone, testing and helping improve multiple abilities at the same time. It can be used with students who are no longer facing the adequate amount of challenge in completing the cloze reading passage with the help of several blanks but aren’t yet ready to complete it with no guidance at all.
4. Take it one thing at a time
One cloze passage should only be used to test one concept, either grammatical or subject-specific. Too many omitted words like conjunctions, verbs, adverbs, nouns, and pronouns, together can prove to be counterproductive. Instead of learning about the importance of each part of the speech, the student can instead end up getting confused about what it is, to begin with.
5. Get your motive straight
Before choosing a passage and making a cloze reading test, it is helpful to determine the motive of the activity. Cloze tests can be used for various purposes including testing a specific subject and topic knowledge, grammatical, spelling, and vocabulary skills. Being informed about the purpose of the activity can help in choosing an appropriate passage and omitting the words accordingly.
6. Time it
To increase the challenge presented by the cloze test, the educator can either time the performance on each test or give a certain time limit, in which the student has to fill in as many blanks as possible. The key thing to keep in mind while comparing performances on different passages would be to ensure that they were of the same difficulty level and equal number of omitted words.
7. Crossword clue
If the cloze test is meant to gauge the student’s vocabulary in part or as a whole, hints in the form of the meaning of the word, another way it is used, a word sounds similar to it, and other clues as given in a crossword puzzle can be presented. This can help in increasing the difficulty level, for example, by presenting the obvious answer as the clue and asking the student to fill in the blank with another word that means the same.
8. Don’t go overboard
While making a cloze reading passage and omitting words, it is important to first select the purpose of the passage, that is, for example, to teach the importance and correct usage of articles. Another thing to keep in mind in this scenario would be that while a passage might have a lot of articles, it is not necessary to omit each of them. Instead, the educator should be cautious while omitting so as to not omit too many words that the sentence loses all meaning or too less that the answers end up becoming obvious.
9. Choose the passage wisely
The passage, article, story, etc. chosen for cloze reading should be chosen carefully. The educator not only needs to be mindful of the purpose of the cloze reading activity but also of the reading and comprehension level of the class. If a passage from a classic work of literature, like that of Shakespeare, is chosen, for testing with children from 3rd standard, this activity would obviously present several additional challenges besides the intended ones.
Effectiveness of cloze reading: What does the research point out?
Various studies have tried to gauge the usefulness of the Cloze Reading and Test method in assessing an individual’s comprehension abilities. A 2001 study compared the results of a large number of students on a cloze test of comprehension with a true-false one. It found no significant differences in the scores, proving that when properly designed, cloze tests can be seen as valid tests of comprehension and text integration.
Another study, conducted in 2013, showed that cloze tests can not only assess grammatical skills but also an individual’s understanding of the text. It posited that if the words to be omitted are carefully selected, they encourage the individual to analyze what’s written instead of just processing it on a surface level to look for grammatical inaccuracies.
Furthermore, another study tested various types of cloze tests and their effectiveness in assessing reading comprehension as well as differentiating between students who have difficulties with reading. It found that maze-type cloze tests are most effective in helping identify students who are having difficulties with reading so that they can be provided with the help and support they need.
Cloze Reading Tests, if made carefully, can be greatly helpful in advancing learning and understanding as well as assessing it. Educators need to be mindful of several things while making a Cloze Reading passage like clearing up their motive before beginning, choosing the passage that best serves their motive, and not omitting too many words. To manage the difficulty levels, the educators can either provide the students with word banks and hints with the number of blanks or jumble the hints up and make the activity a race against time.
As shown by various studies, if made and used judiciously, Cloze Tests can help in assessing grammatical concepts, comprehension, and reading abilities. Furthermore, it can also be combined with other tools like Printable Graphic Organizers For Reading Comprehension for even better results.
- Greene, B. (2001). Testing reading comprehension of theoretical discourse with cloze. Journal of Research in Reading, 24(1), 82-98.
- Gellert, A. S., & Elbro, C. (2013). Cloze tests may be quick, but are they dirty? Development and preliminary validation of a cloze test of reading comprehension. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 31(1), 16-28.
- Williams, R. S., Ari, O., & Santamaria, C. N. (2011). Measuring college students’ reading comprehension ability using cloze tests. Journal of Research in Reading, 34(2), 215-231.