Reading Level Feature by Google
Posted by repplinger
Google recently came out with a new feature that sorts results by reading level. For example, if you were an elementary or middle school child looking up an information for a school report, you would perform an advanced search and select a basic reading level. There are a few options for refining your results to a specific reading level (see screenshot below).
This is one of the first general internet search engines that offers this function (at least that I’m aware of). There are many other subscription-based databases that offer similar tiered reading level search/refining capabilities, such as EBSCOHost’s Middle Search Plus which uses a Lexile reading level system to rate literary grade levels of literature.
It would be interesting to find out how Google categorizes pages into reading levels. Does it use a controlled vocabulary? If specific words appear a designated number of times or sequence, would be considered advanced? Or perhaps if there is a lack of advanced terminology, such as scientific names used for classification, would be considered basic or intermediate?
And could this somehow be used as a filter? For example, perhaps searches for explicit language or sexual content at a basic reading level would not yield results. While this would be very helpful for parents to help screen objectionable material from their children, it might create a hurdle for adults who are studying a language (perhaps doing a report on a health topic in a second language. This is not the best example since adults tend to be more sophisticated searchers and this should not be much of a barrier for them, but you get my point.
This is a wonderful resource for those interested only in a specific reading level range, such as scientists who want the technical information, or school aged children who might want to exclude the really technical literature. Below are directions from the Google Support Page that lists how to use this new feature.
Features: Reading level
Sometimes you may want to limit your search results to a specific reading level. For instance, a junior high school teacher looking for content for her students or a second-language learner might want web pages written at a basic reading level. A scientist searching for the latest findings from the experts may want to limit results to those at advanced reading levels.
To limit your search results to a specific reading level, follow these steps:
- On the search results page, click Advanced Search below the search box.
- Next to “Reading level” within the “Need more tools” section, select your desired reading level (basic, intermediate, or advanced) or choose to show all results annotated with reading levels.
- Click Advanced search at the bottom of the page.
- At any time, you can click the X in the right corner of the blue bar beneath the search box to go back to seeing all results.