The Multidimensional Knowledge in Text Comprehension framework

Kathryn S. McCarthy, Danielle S. McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Prior knowledge is one of the strongest contributors to comprehension, but there is little specificity about different aspects of prior knowledge and how they impact comprehension. This article introduces the Multidimensional Knowledge in Text Comprehension framework, which conceptualizes prior knowledge along four intersecting dimensions: amount, accuracy, specificity, and coherence. Amount refers to how many relevant concepts the reader knows. Accuracy refers to the extent to which the reader’s knowledge is correct. Specificity refers the degree to which the knowledge is related to information in the target text. Coherence refers to the interconnectedness of prior knowledge. Conceptualizing prior content knowledge along these dimensions deepens understanding of the construct and lends to more specific predictions about how learners process information. Considering knowledge across multiple dimensions is crucially important to the development and selection of prior knowledge assessments and, in turn, educators’ ability to capitalize on learners’ strengths across various comprehension tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-214
Number of pages19
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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