Multiple-documents literacy: Understanding, assessing, and improving students' learning from conflicting information sources (completed)

Multiple-documents literacy refers to the ability to locate, evaluate, and use diverse sources of information for the purpose of constructing and communicating an integrated, meaningful representation of a subject, issue, or situation. In Norway and many other countries, researchers, educators, and policy-makers are concerned that this crucial competency is not adequately developed through schooling.

About the project

In this basic research project, upper-secondary and undergraduate students' multiple-documents literacy within the domain of science will be focused. Specifically, based on existing theory and research pertaining to multiple-documents literacy, three questions will be addressed. First, which learning processes and competencies are involved in the comprehension and integration of multiple documents and how are those processes and competencies interrelated?

In order to investigate this issue, we will conduct a study where first-year university students read authentic documents presenting different views on a natural science topic. The documents will be presented digitally in a controlled Google-like environment and represent different kinds of source materials. Second, how can the learning outcomes of multiple-documents literacy be reliably and validly assessed? To address this question, existing tools for the assessment of single-document comprehension will be further adapted to the reading-task context of multiple documents. Moreover, validation research will be carried out that compare scores on adapted versions of existing assessment tools with performance evaluations derived from additional sources. Third, how can multiple-documents literacy be effectively promoted? To investigate this issue, we will conduct two experiments in upper-secondary school. Experimental groups will be given instruction when searching and reading documents on the Web to learn about a conflicting scientific topic. Multi- and single component approaches will be compared with control conditions


The primary objectives of the project are:

  1. To conduct and publish original basic research on the learning processes involved in multiple-documents literacy.
  2. To conduct and publish original basic research on how the learning outcomes of multiple-documents reading can be assessed.
  3. To conduct and publish original basic research on interventions to improve multiple-documents literacy.
  4. To further develop collaboration with national and international researchers in the area.
  5. To contribute to the further qualification of younger researchers in the field by including a post doctoral fellow in the project and organizing doctoral courses that give Norwegian doctoral fellows the opportunity to interact with leading international experts.

Category of research

Basic research


Norwegian Research Council / FRISAM

International partners collaborating as consortium participants

Rainer Bromme, Westfalische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany

Eduardo Vidal-Abarca, Universitat de Valencia, Spain

M. Anne Britt, Northern Illinois University, USA


Published Oct. 5, 2010 10:29 AM - Last modified Feb. 11, 2020 3:04 PM


Ivar Bråten

Department of Educational Research                          

P.O. Box 1092 Blindern                                              

N-0317 Oslo, Norway                                                   

Phone: + (47) 22 85 52 82



Helge Strømsø      

Department of Educational Research

P.O. Box 1092 Blindern

N-0317 Oslo, Norway

Phone: + (47) 22 85 81 88