Interactive Effects of Text-Based and Task-Based Importance on Learning From Text

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Abstract

In 3 experiments we examined the interactive effects of text-based importance (i.e., intrinsically important information such as main ideas) and task-based importance (i.e., information made important by a task) on recall for text. Experiment 1 indicated that information relevant to an encoding task was recalled better than was task-irrelevant information. Experiment 2 revealed an interaction between text-based and task-based importance. Information that was relevant to a task was recalled well regardless of its text-based importance. Information that was not relevant was recalled better if it was of high text-based rather than of low text-based importance. Experiment 3 indicated interactive effects at both encoding and retrieval. Readers used flexible, compensatory strategies that reflected a trade-off between text-based and task-based importance. The use of multiple strategies occurred spontaneously without specific experimenter-based instructions.

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