Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



Yu, F. (2015). An analysis of pictures for improving reading comprehension: A case study of the New Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi. The Nebraska Educator, 2, 1-27.


This study examines pictures from reading comprehension tasks of the New Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (the New HSK), also referred to as the New Chinese Proficiency Test, to see (a) what kind of pictures facilitate reading comprehension, (b) if and how pictures in the New HSK reading comprehension tasks facilitate test candidates in comprehending the reading text, and (c) what are the effects of pictures on reading comprehension. Based on previous studies (e.g., Levin, 1983); Omaggio, 1979), a picture facilitating reading comprehension is expected to meet four criteria simultaneously: (1) not including too much information about the content of the reading text; (2) depicting information from the beginning paragraph(s) of the text; (3) mirroring language complexity of the text; and (4) depicting information that is invited to be processed in the text. Analyzed through these four criteria, 29 out of 60 pictures were identified as facilitative pictures promoting reading comprehension. The remaining 31 pictures were found to be distracting or superfluous and thus unable to effectively help readers comprehend the text. Suggestions for test designers about how to choose pictures facilitating reading comprehension are also provided.