Do a simultaneous rather than sequential presentation of multiple documents and the possibility to highlight text foster multiple document comprehension? The roles of reading interactions in the effects of document presentation and text-highlighting.

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2022-12-31
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Psychologie
Advisor: Gerjets, Peter (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2021-07-27
DDC Classifikation: 150 - Psychology
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Gaining a comprehensive understanding of a complex subject matter requires readers to consult multiple documents, since single documents might only provide one-sided information. These documents might furthermore provide complementary or conflicting information, which requires readers to compare, contrast, evaluate, and integrate information across documents. As previous work has shown, however, this is a challenging task even for advanced readers. Research in the field of multiple document comprehension therefore aims to identify tools to support readers in comparing, contrasting, and integrating information across documents, as well as to understand what reading processes (i.e., cognitive or behavioral) are positively related to multiple document comprehension. The present dissertation aimed to contribute to this line of research by (a) investigating the effects of two characteristics of a digital reading environment on readers’ comprehension of multiple, partly conflicting documents, and (b) by investigating reading interactions (i.e., interactions with the documents during reading) assumed to reflect cross-document information comparison as potential rationales for the hypothesized effects of the reading environment. Specifically, the two characteristics of a reading environment examined were whether it enabled a simultaneous rather than sequential presentation of documents, and whether it enabled text-highlighting. As reading interactions, whether participants had grouped the partly conflicting documents during reading as well as the number of revisits to documents were assessed. Of note, both of the characteristics of a reading environment have previously only scarcely been investigated in relation to multiple document comprehension. Across the three studies conducted as part of this dissertation, findings showed mixed results regarding the main effects of document presentation and text-highlighting on multiple document comprehension – possibly due to methodological differences across studies. However, findings consistently indicate important roles of both reading interactions examined for (specific aspects of) multiple document comprehension, which were partly dependent on the reading environment. For instance, findings of the present work suggest that the overall inconclusive findings regarding the effectiveness of text-highlighting might be due to differences in participants’ revisiting behavior across studies. Overall, findings are supportive of the assumption of a complex interplay between reading environment, reading (inter-)actions and multiple document comprehension which was made by a theoretical model in the field.

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