The effects of purpose instructions and strategy-focused instructions on reading processes and products

Bailing Lyu, Matthew T. McCrudden, Catherine Bohn-Gettler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In educational settings, students read for multiple purposes, such as preparing for an exam, practicing a new reading strategy, writing an essay, and more. Because reading is a goal-directed activity, providing students with task instructions can help them create goals for reading and develop a plan to meet these goals. In the current experiment, we investigated the effects of purpose instructions and strategy-focused instructions on cognitive processes during reading and learning from a single text. Participants were randomly assigned to one cell of a 2 × 2 factorial design. Participants in all four conditions provided typed constructed responses during reading and completed a comprehension and transfer test after reading. For purpose instructions, participants either received information about the post-reading assessment or were just asked to read (control). For strategy-focused instructions, participants received either self-explanation instructions or think-aloud instructions (control). We coded the quantity and quality of the cognitive processes in readers’ constructed responses. Self-explanation instructions promoted the quantity and quality of cognitive processes students used during reading. Also, purpose and self-explanation instructions interacted, which promoted the quality of cognitive processes and reading comprehension compared to purpose-only instructions or self-explanation-only instructions. These findings indicated that purpose instructions and self-explanation instructions differentially affected reading processes and reading outcomes. These results underscore that different task instructions have varying effects, which has important implications for theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalReading and Writing
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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