How does extraneous textbook material influence the reading comprehension of normal and impaired college students?

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Phyllis Devan Culbreth (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Mark Galizio

Abstract: Seductive details are interesting but irrelevant details added to a passage to make it more interesting, and research indicates that such details impair learning and recall of information. Seductive details have traditionally included illustrations, facts, names, and examples, but the effects of boxed material in textbooks have yet to be studied. If seductive details impede normal readers, they may have particularly adverse affects on students with serious reading problems, such as those with learning disabilities (LD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The present study examined the effects of boxed material on recall for both “Normal Control” (NC) and “Attentional Deficit” (AD) participants, who each read one of two versions of a text passage entitled “People with Severe and Multiple Disabilities.” The “Original Text” (OT) version contained extraneous information and illustrations, set apart from the rest of the text, as they appear in the textbook Human Exceptionality: Society, School, and Family (Hardman, Drew, & Egan, 1999). The “Modified Text” (MT) version presented this information imbedded in the text and illustrations and “Focus” questions from the margins were eliminated. The Wender Utah Rating Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, and a Personal History Questionnaire were administered, and students completed a 45-question multiple choice quiz on the passage material and a series of post-study questions. Results indicate that all readers performed significantly better on text information (TI) questions than on boxed information (BI) questions. Clearly contrary to prediction, however, AD participants performed better, on average, than did NC participants, with the effect nearly reaching significance. In addition, questionnaire data indicated that NC and AD participants did not rate significantly differently on either passage clarity or content; AD participants generally find information presented inside boxes in textbooks to be significantly more helpful than do NC participants; and AD participants read the preface and/or “Information for Students” at the beginning of a textbook significantly less often than do NC participants.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
English language--Study and teaching (Higher), Reading (Higher education), Reading comprehension
Reading comprehension
English language -- Study and teaching (Higher)
Reading (Higher education)

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