University of Kentucky

Poster Title

Recognition of Dissonance in Simple Science Texts During Reading

Institution

University of Kentucky

Abstract

One important component of reading comprehension is sensitivity to possible inconsistencies in a text because inconsistencies often signal to the reader that they have misunderstood something. The current study was designed to investigate the effect of inconsistencies in scientific texts on reading. Three experiments were conducted using the same basic procedure. College students read 20 texts a sentence at a time while their reading times were recorded for each sentence. Each text contained a single “target sentence” that was preceded by a “context sentence” whose relation to the target was manipulated. In Experiments 1 and 2 there were two conditions: The context sentence was either neutral or inconsistent with respect to the following target sentence. In Experiment 1, the context and target sentences in each text were adjacent in the text; in Experiment 2, a neutral filler sentence was inserted between the context and target sentences. It was hypothesized that inconsistences would increase reading time of the target sentence in both experiments. Results supported this. Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 1, but with the addition of another variable: A connective word was added to the target sentence to signal the inconsistent relation between the context and target sentence. It was hypothesized that the addition of a connective word would decrease the effect found in the first two experiments. The results supported this. Together, the results of the three experiments demonstrate that inconsistencies in scientific texts (a) cause increased reading time regardless of distance between the target sentence and inconsistency and (b) the presence of transition words reduces this effect even when inconsistencies are present. The current study helps in understanding the process of reading comprehension in scientific texts.

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Recognition of Dissonance in Simple Science Texts During Reading

One important component of reading comprehension is sensitivity to possible inconsistencies in a text because inconsistencies often signal to the reader that they have misunderstood something. The current study was designed to investigate the effect of inconsistencies in scientific texts on reading. Three experiments were conducted using the same basic procedure. College students read 20 texts a sentence at a time while their reading times were recorded for each sentence. Each text contained a single “target sentence” that was preceded by a “context sentence” whose relation to the target was manipulated. In Experiments 1 and 2 there were two conditions: The context sentence was either neutral or inconsistent with respect to the following target sentence. In Experiment 1, the context and target sentences in each text were adjacent in the text; in Experiment 2, a neutral filler sentence was inserted between the context and target sentences. It was hypothesized that inconsistences would increase reading time of the target sentence in both experiments. Results supported this. Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 1, but with the addition of another variable: A connective word was added to the target sentence to signal the inconsistent relation between the context and target sentence. It was hypothesized that the addition of a connective word would decrease the effect found in the first two experiments. The results supported this. Together, the results of the three experiments demonstrate that inconsistencies in scientific texts (a) cause increased reading time regardless of distance between the target sentence and inconsistency and (b) the presence of transition words reduces this effect even when inconsistencies are present. The current study helps in understanding the process of reading comprehension in scientific texts.