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Improving texts with multiple summaries by aiding readers to build a text model

Weiss, Laura A. (2012) Improving texts with multiple summaries by aiding readers to build a text model.

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Abstract:Background. Readers often have difficulties getting the gist of a text. Organizational devices can improve understanding by signaling the text structure and helping readers to distinguish between details and key ideas. This study examines a new design solution to support reading for understanding and recall: QuikScan (QS). QS presents within-document summaries that are formatted as numbered list items. Aim. Empirical studies have shown that QS improves understanding and recall, but the underlying reasons how it works are still unclear. Two rivaling hypotheses are examined. According to the text model hypothesis, QS is effective because it leads to the development of an elaborate and coherent text model. The repetition hypothesis states that QS enhances recall because the reader encounters key ideas twice, namely in the QS-summaries and in the body text. Method. The participants were 170 students from two secondary schools from the three highest grades. They were assigned randomly to one of six conditions: (1) Control, (2) Concept, (3) Detail, (4) Label, (5) Concept + Label, or (6) Detail + Label condition. Recall was assessed with an open answer test for main concepts and details. Results. Labels had no effects on text recall. Therefore, conditions with labels were merged with the corresponding condition. The QS Concept condition yielded a significant higher outcome on overall test score than did the Control or QS Detail condition. This effect stemmed from the concept questions which indicate a text model effect. The repetition effect was refuted. Conclusions. QS significantly improves text understanding and recall. It does so by helping readers construct a coherent text model, rather than from sheer repetition.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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