Publication details [#54530]

White, Sheida. 2011. The cognitive and linguistic demands of everyday, functional literacy tasks: With application to an over-the-counter drug label. Written Language and Literacy 14 (2) : 224–250.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins


After examining seminal research related to functional literacy and the national assessments of adult literacy, seven key cognitive and linguistic demands are proposed that everyday literacy tasks (e.g. reading a drug label) make: read words, comprehend sentences, search text, identify computations, perform computations, infer meaning, and apply information. The distinctiveness of the five non-quantitative task demands and their progression in difficulty were subjected to verification via independent psychometric analyses using 252 functional literacy tasks and responses of 46,000 adults aged 16 and older residing in households and prisons in the United States. The results of multidimensional item respond theory (MIRT) modeling indicate delineation among three sets of task demands. Findings are illustrated through application to a common task involving an over-the-counter drug label.