Master Åste Marie Mjelve Hagen's dissertation for the degree of Ph.D..
Title of dissertation:
Reading in the knowledge society. A quantitative and qualitative investigation of students' strategic reading of multiple texts.
This study investigated students' strategic processing during multiple text reading in relation to reader characteristics and task conditions. Before reading, students' prior knowledge and epistemic beliefs (e.g. knowledge is simple versus complex) were assessed. Students were randomly assigned to one of two task conditions: to read the texts in order to summarize or to construct an argument. Forty-four undergraduates spontaneously took notes while reading seven partly conflicting texts. After reading, self-reported strategies and comprehension of the texts were measured. To study relationships between individual difference characteristics, strategic processing and comprehension of the texts, quantitative correlational analyses and qualitative case study analyses were performed. The results indicated that prior knowledge and deeper strategies (as evidenced by the degree of information transformation in students' notes) were related to multiple text comprehension. Also, relationships between note-taking and self-reported strategies suggested that students taking transformed notes were more aware of their strategic processing.
Moreover, separate analyses for the two task conditions suggested that relationships between prior knowledge, epistemic beliefs, strategic processing and comprehension varied as a function of task. In the summary condition. prior knowledge and epistemic beliefs (e.g. knowledge is theoretical and complex) were related to comprehension. In the argument group, however, intertextual reading strategies in notes were related to comprehension. The results also suggested a heightened awareness of intertextual reading strategies among students who read to construct an argument, with this, possibly, explaining why their note-taking strategies accounted for variance in their comprehension performance.