CHAPTER IV Listening


The importance of listening in communicationhas long been recognized. Although listening is seldom taught in the schools, researchers and educators have been aware that more time is spent in listening than in other components of the communicationprocess, and that most school instruction occurs in a speaking-listeningcontext. Research in listening has been extensive, though generally atomistic, uncoordinated, and repetitive. A trend of recent studies in listening has been to re-examine previously studied topics; and although some have explored new topics, all have contributedin one way or another to an evolving general theory of listening. Discussions and reviews of research pertinent to an evolving theory of listening were conducted by Dixon (1964), Duker (1965), Hollingsworth (1964), and Russell (1964).


of Listening

Research in listening in the last three decades has been concerned, directly or indirectly, with some phase of instruction. One assumption which may be made from this research is that listening ability can be improved with instruction. Recent research has supportedthis assumption. A representativestudy is that of Fawcett (1963), who created and used exercises to develop listening ability at fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade levels. She compared pre- and post-test scores on the Sequential Tests of Educational Progress: Listening comprehension test of this group with scores of a matched control group which received no instruction in listening. Analysis of her data (using analysis of covariance and t-tests) showed that students who received instruction in listening scored significantly higher on the listening test. This type of study, one of several investigations on the teachability of listening, suggests that general listening ability is positively affected by instruction. Lundsteen (1963) investigated the effects of instruction on discriminating, or critical listening. She isolated and taught to fifth- and sixth-grade students three specific, critical listening skills: (a) detecting a speaker's purposes, (b) evaluating propagandain a speaker'spresentation, and (c) evaluating arguments. She then compared their performance on a test constructed for the experiment with that of students who had received no instruction and found, as in other studies, a statistically significant gain by the group which received instruction. 152

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Lundsteen (1965), in a follow-up of her earlier study, investigated the degree of permanenceof learnings and the amount of transfer to in-school and out-of-school activities. One year later she administered the test used in the previous study to students from the original experimental and control groups, and requested that students in the experimental group write anonymously of the ways in which they had used the critical listening lessons during the year. She found that the group which had received instruction still scored significantly higher on the experimental test and that students in this group reported instances of transfer of learnings.

Factors Affecting the Teaching

of Listening

Several recent studies explored factors which affect the teaching of listening and the listening process in general. The effect of teaching practices was studied by Van Wingerden (1965), who found that teachers say they spend more time teaching listening than they actually do, that they rely more on incidental than on direct teaching, and that they work with few aids and instructional materials and without pre- or in-service assistance. The effect of age was studied by Farrow (1963) and by Condon (1965), who noted that objective scores on listening tests increase with age. The influence of seating was investigated by Furbay (1965), who found that scattered seating in a room (as opposed to compact seating) resulted in listeners' tending to shift toward the thesis of the speaker's talk. Brooks and Wulftange (1964) studied the effect of interest on listening comprehensionand found that interest in the materials presented and the personality of the speaker affected listening comprehension.The effect of position in and size of family was studied by Brown (1965), who found that children with older and younger siblings were not better listeners than oldest or youngest children and that children from small families were not better listeners than those from large families. The effect of televiewing was studied by Edinger (1964) and by Brown (1965). Edinger found that televised lessons in listening and critical thinking were effective in improving scores on a standardizedlistening test, but not on a test of critical thinking abilities. Brown found that elementary school students who watched commercialtelevision regularly scored higher on a listening test than those who did not, but found no relationship between the number of hours spent watching television and scores on the listening test. Recent studies have also investigated the influence of personality factors on listening. Higgins (1964) analyzed scores made by the same group of subjects on two listening tests and two anxiety scales and found that (a) listening was influenced neither negatively nor positively by anxiety and (b) no substantialrelationshipexisted betweenlistening ability and anxiety. Ross (1964) comparedlistening test scores of good and poor listeners, who



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were identified as the upper and lower extremes of his test population, with other variables, e.g., reading, arithmetic, personal and social adjustment, socioeconomic factors, and hearing. He found a high positive relationship between listening and all factors studied except hearing and personality (correlations between listening and personality test scores ranged from -0.28 to 0.18). Lundsteen (1965) compared scores on a personality test and scores on her experimentaltest of critical listening and found no significant relationship. Several studies investigated rate of presentation and listening comprehension. De Hoop (1965a) found that speaking presentationsof 210 words per minute (wpm) yielded better results for mentally retarded students and for students with limited sight; and, in a second study (1965b), that 175 wpm yielded significantly better results for cerebral palsied students. Spicker (1963) found that 125 wpm and 175 wpm yielded better results for both mentally retarded and intellectually normal students. A study by Orr, Friedman, and Williams (1965) gave added support to the widely held assumption that speaking rates can be increased without loss in listening comprehension. They found that time-compressedspeech at rates up to 475 wpm produced no significant loss in comprehension.

Listening and Reading
It has long seemed apparent to many investigators that a relationship exists between listening and reading. These behaviors are related as each is concerned with the decoding half of the communication process and seems to be a complex of related skills components, e.g., reading for main ideas or transitional elements, and listening for main ideas or transitional elements. Further, it is possible to demonstrate a statistical relationship between listening and reading test scores. This relationship was stressed by Hollingsworth (1964) and Townsend (1964) in reviews of research. Devine (1964) postulated that the same higher mental processes underlie both facets of the language arts complex, and Hollingsworth (1965) pointed to the need for planned programs to exploit the relationship for teaching purposes. However, recent studies did not completely support the assumption that listening and reading are related. Reported correlation coefficients between listening and reading were positive and high: Ross (1964) found a coefficient of 0.74; Brown (1965) found coefficients of 0.82 at fourthgrade level, of 0.76 at fifth-grade level, and 0.77 at sixth-grade level; both Condon (1965) and Fawcett (1963) found "high" correlations; Duker (1965) reported an average coefficientof 0.57. Other recent studies (not reported here) of tests used to establish such correlations suggested that the tests may be measuring something else than, or in addition to, listening ability. It may be advisable to delay further correlational studies 154

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between listening and reading until instrumentsfor measuring pure listening ability are available. It may also be wise to interpret coefficients of relationship between listening and reading with the limitations of listening tests in mind. Reeves (1965) investigated the effect of specific instruction in listening on reading performance. She used recorded listening lessons with fourthgrade students and found no significant differencesbetween mean gains of listening and reading scores of the experimentalgroup, which had instruction in listening, and the matched control group, which had no listening lessons. Lewis (1963) used listening exercises with college freshmen and found no significant differences between listening and reading scores or between the reading scores of those who had instruction in listening and those, in a matched control group, who did not. Hollingsworth (1965), working with eighth-grade students, found no significant differences between reading scores of fhose who had listening instruction and those who did not. and despite recent studies to the contrary, it certainly seems worthwhile to continue the investigations into the nature and extent of this relationship. Future studies might explore the relationships between specific listening
skills (e.g., listening to follow the speaker's plan of organization, or listening to recognize a speaker's inferences) and specific reading skills (e.g., reading to follow a writer's plan of organization, or reading to recognize a writer's inferences). Research in this area of listening seems to have barely scratched the surface. Still, a relationship between listening and reading does seem to exist,

Other Correlational


The apparent relationships of listening and speaking and of listening and intelligence also need further study. Lawson (1964) stressed the relationship between listening and speaking and suggested that the development of the listener function in an individual "probably plays an important role in the ultimate development of his skill as a speaker in being able to order verbal behavior." Brilhart (1965) found no evidence of positive correlation between certain kinds of listening and speaking activities. She found that the ability to tell listeners how to draw certain geometric figures was unrelated to the ability of the same subjects to listen to spoken directions for drawing geometric figures. Support for the assumption that listening is related to intelligence remained, in recent studies, at the level of test score correlations. Ross (1964) found correlations of 0.76 between listening test scores and verbal intelligence scores and of 0.25 between listening scores and nonverbal intelligence scores. Brown (1965) reported correlations between listening and intelligence ranging from 0.82 at the fourth-grade level to 0.76 at the fifth-grade



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level and 0.77 at the sixth-gradelevel. Anderson and Baldauf (1963) found a correlationcoefficientof 0.58 betweenlistening and intelligence test scores.

Measures of Listening Ability
Research studies in listening are generally predicated on the assumptions that (a) listening ability can be measured and (b) effective measuring instruments exist. Recent studies raised serious questions about the research use of the two most widely used standardized tests of listening. Anderson and Baldauf (1963) analyzed the Sequential Tests of Educational Progress: Listening (Form 4), and they came to the conclusion that estimates for reliability fall below minimal acceptable levels for tests used for individual evaluation. Also, heavy loadings in verbal comprehension suggested that achievement on the test may be a matter of verbal comprehensionand not listening as a distinct ability, and that the test had no general utility in an overall standardized achievement battery. They pointed to the need for valid, reliable measures of listening comprehension. Langholz (1965) studied the Brown-CarlsenListening Comprehension Test and reported that listening efficiency scores on the test reflected, in part, the difficulty of the individual item, that interpretation of listening test scores should be based upon the difficultyindex of test items, and that the test can be improved by the application of basic question refinement techniques to decrease item difficulty by increasing the clarity and comprehensionof items. Kelly (1965) in a study of both tests concluded that the construct validity of each was questionable because the two tests failed to correlate significantly higher among themselvesthan with reading and intelligence tests. In general reviews of listening research, Dixon (1964) noted the lack of adequatetests in listening and pointed out that more effective measures are mandatory in evaluating methods, materials, and programs in listening; while Russell (1964) suggested that a source of such tests is in unpublished theses and dissertations in which individuals have constructedtests but not carried them beyond one or two revisions.

Summary and Comments
Recent studies in listening have further explored previously studied questions. Their value, generally, has been to support and refine existing assumptions about the teaching of listening and the listening process. It seems increasingly clear that (a) listening ability can be improved by instruction; (b) listening is affected by such factors as maturity, rate of presentation, and the intrinsic interest of materials presented; and (c) listening is, in some way, related to reading. Recent studies have found


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that (a) learnings in listening can be permanent; (b) personality factors (i.e., those revealed in various tests) do not influence listening, seating in a room does affect listening, position in the family does not affect it, listening comprehension can be influenced positively by televiewing; and (c) correlations between listening and speaking may be negative. Other recent studies have raised serious questions about the validity and reliability of widely used tests of listening comprehension. Still needed are more studies of (a) critical listening, (b) the relationships between specific listening and reading abilities, (c) ways of exploiting possible relationships for teaching purposes, (d) teaching techniques and materials, (e) personality factors which may influence listening, (f) ways in which listening instruction affects behavior, and (g) measuring devices in listening. Investigations of the relationships between listening research and linguistic research are needed. Topics which should be investigated are listening and regional dialects, listening and cultural-social levels, listening and syntax, and listening and transformational grammar. Recent studies have contributed much toward an, evolving theory of listening, but many questions remain unanswered. Indeed, certain significant questions about listening may still remain to be asked.

Journal of Educational Research 57: 197-200; December 1963. BARBARA L. "The Relationship Between Some Aspects of Communicative BRILHART, Speaking and Communicative Listening." Journal of Communication 15: 35-46; March 1965. BROOKS,KEITH, and WULFTANGE,SISTERI. MARIE. "Listener Response to Oral Interpretation." Speech Monographs 31: 73-79; March 1964. CHARLES T. "Three Studies of the Listening of Children." Speech Monographs BROWN, 32: 129-38; June 1965. An Analysis of the Differences Between Good and Poor EDWYNA FORSYTH. CONDON, Listeners in Grades Nine, Eleven, and Thirteen. Doctor's thesis. Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1965. 146 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 26: 3106; No. 6, 1965.) DEHOOP,WIETSE. Effects and Interaction Effects of Speaking Rate, Visual Limitation, and Intelligence Level on Aural Acquisition and Retention of Sentences. Doctor's thesis. Athens: University of Georgia, 1965. 76 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 26: 3752-53; No. 7, 1966.) (a) DEHOOP,WIETSE. "Listening Comprehension of Cerebral Palsied and Other Crippled Children as a Function of Two Speaking Rates." Exceptional Children 31: 233-40; January 1965. (b) THOMAS G. "Listening: The Neglected Dimension of the Reading Program." DEVINE, Improvement of Reading Through Classroom Practice. International Reading Association Conference Proceedings. (Edited by J. Allen Figurel.) Newark, Del.: the Association, 1964. Vol. 9, pp. 119-20. R. "Listening: Most Neglected of the Language Arts." Elementary DIXON,NORMAN English 41: 285-88; March 1964. SAM. "Listening and Reading." Elementary School Journal 65: 321-29; March DUKER, 1965.
ANDERSON,HAROLDM., and BALDAUF, ROBERTJ. "A Study of a Measure of Listening."



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The Effectiveness of Television Teaching in Developing Pupil EDINGER,LOISVIRGINIA.

Skills of Listening, Comprehension and Critical Thinking. Doctor's thesis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1964. 157 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 26: 1509; No. 3, 1965.) An Experimental Study of Listening Attention at the Fourth, VERNLESLIE. FARROW, Fifth, and Sixth Grade. Doctor's thesis. Eugene: University of Oregon, 1963. 310 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 24: 3146; No. 8, 1964.) FAWCETT,ANNABEL ELIZABETH.The Efect of Training in Listening upon the Listening Skills of Intermediate Grade Children. Doctor's thesis. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh, 1963. 237 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 25: 7108-7109; No. 12, 1965.) ALBERT L. "The Influence of Scattered Versus Compact Seating on Audience FURBAY, Response." Speech Monographs 32: 144-48; June 1965. IVANDUKE.An Empirical Study of Listening Related to Anxiety and to CerHIGGINS, tain Other Measures of Ability and Achievement. Doctor's thesis. Los Angeles: University of Southern California, 1964. 183 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 25: 1745-46; No. 3, 1964.) PAUL M. "Can Training in Listening Improve Reading?" Reading HOLLINGSWORTH, Teacher 18: 121-23; November 1964. PAUL M. "So They Listened: The Effects of a Listening Program." HOLLINGSWORTH, Journal of Communication 15: 14-16; March 1965. KELLY, CHARLESM. "An Investigation of the Construct Validity of Two Commercially Published Listening Tests." Speech Monographs 32: 139-43; June 1965. LANGHOLZ,ARMIN P. A Study of the Relationship of Listening Test Scores to Test Item Difficulty. Doctor's thesis. Columbus: Ohio State University, 1965. 96 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 26: 6912; No. 11, 1966.) REED."Verbal Sequencing Without Mediation." Journal of Communication LAWSON, 14: 98-104; June 1964. LEWIS,ROBERT FULTON, JR. Complementing Instruction in Reading Improvement of College Students with Instruction in Auding. Doctor's thesis. Auburn, Ala.: Auburn University, 1963. 128 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 24: 3204-3205; No. 8, 1964.) LUNDSTEEN,SARA WYNNRICKEY. Teaching Abilities in Critical Listening in the Fifth and Sixth Grades. Doctor's thesis. Berkeley: University of California, 1963. 241 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 24: 5247-48; No. 12, 1964.) "Critical Listening-Permanency and Transfer of LUNDSTEEN, SARAWYNN RICKEY. Gains Made During an Experiment in the Fifth and Sixth Grades." California Journal of Educational Research 16: 210-16; November 1965. HERBERT JANE C. C. "Trainability of ORR,DAVID B.; FRIEDMAN, L.; and WILLIAMS, Listening Comprehension of Speeded Discourse." Journal of Educational Psychology 56: 148-56; June 1965. REEVES, HARRIETR. The Effect of Training in Listening upon Reading Achievement. Doctor's thesis. Tallahassee: Florida State University, 1965. 46 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 26: 7181-82; No. 12, 1966.) Ross, RAMON."A Look at Listeners." Elementary School Journal 64: 369-72; April 1964. DAVIDH. "A Conspectus of Recent Research on Listening Abilities." EleRUSSELL, mentary English 41: 262-67; March 1964. HOWARD H. Listening Comprehension and Retention of Intellectually Normal SPICKER, and Retarded Children as Functions of Speaking Rate and Passage Difficulty. Doctor's thesis. Nashville, Tenn.: George Peabody College for Teachers, 1963. 112 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 24: 1925; No. 5, 1963.) AGATHA."A Bibliography on Auding." Reading Teacher 17: 549-51; TOWNSEND, April 1964. VAN WINGERDEN,STEWART.A Study, of Direct, Planned Listening Instruction in the Intermediate Grades in Four Counties in the State of Washington. Doctor's thesis. Pullman: Washington State University, 1965. 88 pp. (Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts 26: 5310-11; No. 9, 1966.)