Influences of reading instructions and segmentation on memory over time



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People read for many different reasons. Some read for enjoyment, while others read to retain information for school or work. However, reading comprehension is a complex process that varies across individuals. What is considered successful comprehension may depend on different factors, such as cognitive ability (e.g., event model construction in working memory - segmentation; Zacks et al., 2007), situation factors (e.g., reading goals), and text-specific factors (e.g., genre) (e.g., van den Broek, Bohn-Gettler, Carlson, & White 2011; van den Broek, Mouw, & Kraal, 2015). For example, do reader’s goals interact with their ability to mentally represent events while reading, and do these factors influence different levels of memory representation, depending on how long the information is retained? The current study investigated the influence of general explicit reading instructions on people’s ability to identify meaningful events (segment) in news stories and to remember different levels of information over varying retention intervals, ranging from 5 minutes to 1 month. After being randomly assigned reading instructions, participants read and segmented a series of texts and completed a recognition memory task for one of those texts at each of 4 delays. Generally, it was expected that reading instructions and segmentation would influence memory and that different types of information would show different patterns of forgetting. Overall, the results partially replicated and extended prior work, suggesting that different types of information show different patterns of forgetting, effective encoding is important for retaining those levels of information over time, and reading instructions moderate those relationships.



Reading Comprehension, Event Segmentation, Retention, Memory

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Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Psychological Sciences

Major Professor

Heather R. Bailey