A demonstration of improved precision of word recognition scores

Robert S. Schlauch, Elizabeth S. Anderson, Christophe Micheyla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to demonstrate improved precision of word recognition scores (WRSs) by increasing list length and analyzing phonemic errors. Method: Pure-tone thresholds (frequencies between 0.25 and 8.0 kHz) and WRSs were measured in 3 levels of speech-shaped noise (50, 52, and 54 dB HL) for 24 listeners with normal hearing. WRSs were obtained for half-lists and full lists of Northwestern University Test No. 6 (Tillman & Carhart, 1966) words presented at 48 dB HL. A resampling procedure was used to derive dimensionless effect sizes for identifying a change in hearing using the data. This allowed the direct comparison of the magnitude of shifts in WRS (%) and in the average pure-tone threshold (dB), which provided a context for interpreting the WRS. Results: WRSs based on a 50-word list analyzed by the percentage of correct phonemes were significantly more sensitive for identifying a change in hearing than the WRSs based on 25-word lists analyzed by percentage of correct words. Conclusion: Increasing the number of items that contribute to a WRS significantly increased the test's ability to identify a change in hearing. Clinical and research applications could potentially benefit from a more precise word recognition test, the only basic audiologic measure that estimates directly the distortion component of hearing loss and its effect on communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-555
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Audiology
  • Diagnostics
  • Pure-tone thresholds
  • Speech recognition


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