The Psychology of Science Text Comprehension

The Psychology of Science Text Comprehension

The Psychology of Science Text Comprehension

The Psychology of Science Text Comprehension


This volume's goal is to provide readers with up-to-date information on the research and theory of scientific text comprehension. It is widely acknowledged that the comprehension of science and technological artifacts is very difficult for both children and adults. The material is conceptually complex, there is very little background knowledge for most individuals, and the materials are often poorly written. Therefore, it is no surprise that students are turned off from learning science and technology. Given these challenges, it is important to design scientific text in a fashion that fits the cognitive constraints of the learner. The enterprise of textbook design needs to be effectively integrated with research in discourse processing, educational technology, and cognitive science. This book takes a major step in promoting such an integration.

This volume:

• provides an important integration of research and theory with theoretical, methodological, and educational applications;

• includes a number of chapters that cover how science text information affects mental representations and strategies;

• introduces important suggestions about how text design and new technologies can be thought of as pedagogical features; and

• establishes academic text taxonomies and a consensus of the criteria to organize inferences and other mental mechanisms.


Science textbooks play an important role in science education. However, surprisingly few studies have been conducted on science text comprehension by discourse researchers. This book grew out of a conviction that science text comprehension is an important, albeit relatively neglected, area in psychological research. We believe that this collection of chapters contributes to filling this hole in the literature on text comprehension.

One distinctive characteristic of this book is the adoption of theories and research in discourse processing to understand how science texts are comprehended and how they should be designed. Contributions from the field of discourse processing are fortified by research in education and cognitive science more generally, although one of our persistent observations is that these fields are remarkably isolated from one another. Part of the purpose of this edited volume is to build bridges between these fields.

The idea of this book grew out from a small seminar on science text comprehension that we organized in Cuenca, Spain, in December 1998. It was supported by the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Universidad de Alcalá, and the Universidad Internacional Menéndez y Pelayo. The goals and scope of the book were refined in discussions that took place in some . . .

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