In this experiment we investigated whether the presentation of domain principles within one text facilitates reading to learn from multiple exemplar texts that feature the importance of the principles. There were five texts about natural selection: a principles text, which described principles of natural selection, and four exemplar-based texts about specific animals. These exemplar texts illustrated natural selection in different species but did not explicitly reference natural selection. Undergraduates were randomly assigned to one of three groups: principles-text-first (n = 27), principles-text-last (n = 27), or no principles text (n = 27). Participants completed different topic knowledge tests before and after reading. During reading, we used a think-aloud protocol to assess cognitive processing. The principles text promoted learning and readers’ attempts to integrate ideas between texts, but only when the principles text appeared before the exemplar texts. The three conditions did not differ in their use of intertext bridges between the exemplar texts, nor did they differ in their use of knowledge-based bridges (elaborations). However, the principles-text-first group generated more bridges between the principles text and the exemplar texts than the principles-text-last group. This suggests that a principles text can be an advance organizer that supports the integration of text ideas and learning from multiple complementary texts when students read a principles text first.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology