INSTRUCTIONAL VARIABLES THAT INFLUENCE COGNITIVE PROCESSES DURING READING
Richard E. Mayer University of California, Santa Barbara
Suppose that I asked it group of people to read a passage on how the Nitrogen Cycle works. Further, suppose that I subsequently tested the readers on retention and application. For retention, I could ask about important conceptual information (conceptual retention) and about unimportant details (other retention); also, I could measure whether students remember the word-by-word verbatim aspects of' the passage (verbatim retention). For application, I could ask questions that require putting several pieces of information together (far transfer) or that require using one piece of information directly from the passage (near transfer). Exampies are shown in Table 8.1.
For some readers. I leave the passage it its normal form (control), but for others I try to manipulate how the reader will process the information in the passage (treatment). In comparing the test performance of the control versus treatment groups, several different patterns are possible. First, the treatment group might perform worse than the control group on all test. We could then say that the treatment results in "less learning." Alternatively, the treatment group might perform better than the control group on all tests. We could then say that the treatment results in "more learning." In contrast to these overall differences -- suggesting more or less learning -- the groups could differ in the pattern of performance -- suggesting qualitative differences in learning ( Mayer, 1979). For example.