Reading both high-coherence and low-coherence texts: Effects of text sequence and prior knowledge

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Abstract

Previous research (e.g., McNamara, Kintsch, Songer, & Kintsch, 1996) has demonstrated that high-knowledge readers learn more from low-coherence than high-coherence texts. This study further examined the assumption that this advantage is due to the use of knowledge to fill in the gaps in the text, resulting in an integration of the text with prior knowledge. Participants read either a high- or low-coherence text twice, or they read both the high- and low-coherence texts in one order or the other. Reading the low-coherence text first should force the reader to use prior knowledge to fill in the conceptual gaps. However, reading the high-coherence text first was predicted to negate the necessity of using prior knowledge to understand the low-coherence text when the latter was presented second. As predicted, high-knowledge readers benefited from the low-coherence only text when it was read first. Low-knowledge readers benefited from the high-coherence text, regardless of whether it was read first, second, or twice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Experimental Psychology
Volume55
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2001
Externally publishedYes

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  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

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abstract = "Previous research (e.g., McNamara, Kintsch, Songer, & Kintsch, 1996) has demonstrated that high-knowledge readers learn more from low-coherence than high-coherence texts. This study further examined the assumption that this advantage is due to the use of knowledge to fill in the gaps in the text, resulting in an integration of the text with prior knowledge. Participants read either a high- or low-coherence text twice, or they read both the high- and low-coherence texts in one order or the other. Reading the low-coherence text first should force the reader to use prior knowledge to fill in the conceptual gaps. However, reading the high-coherence text first was predicted to negate the necessity of using prior knowledge to understand the low-coherence text when the latter was presented second. As predicted, high-knowledge readers benefited from the low-coherence only text when it was read first. Low-knowledge readers benefited from the high-coherence text, regardless of whether it was read first, second, or twice.",
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