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M. Anne Britt and Jean Rouet

Multiple document comprehension refers to people’s acquisition of information from more than one document for the purpose of achieving their goals. Comprehending single documents involves constructing a long-term memory representation in which text contents get integrated with the reader’s prior knowledge. Both text structure and readers’ goals are important in determining which information is included in the reader’s memory representation. In multiple document comprehension, documents are associated with distinct source features and they do not have to follow the coherence and cohesion principles that define single documents. Thus, multiple document comprehension involves several additional challenges, including selecting documents, making strategic reading decisions, and sourcing. The documents model framework (DMF) proposed two additional representations beyond those of single-document comprehension: an intertext model based on identifying and interpreting the document sources and an integrated situation model based on representing conceptual connections across documents organized around the structure of the interpreted task. The RESOLV model extended the DMF by proposing that readers formulate their reading task within a larger physical and social situation (a context model), creating goals and methods to achieve those goals (a task model). One such task situation that has received research attention presents people with documents that describe discrepant accounts of some event. The discrepancy-induced source comprehension (DISC) hypothesis predicted that readers would use source information via an intertext model to resolve the contradictory information in their situation models. Several issues that are the focus of current research include understanding the factors that influence coherence across documents, creating interventions to help students become aware of multiple document challenges, and improving our understanding of the developmental trajectory for learning these skills and how they build upon more basic literacy skills.