Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 69–78 | Cite as

Highlighting and Its Relation to Distributed Study and Students’ Metacognitive Beliefs

  • Carole L. YueEmail author
  • Benjamin C. Storm
  • Nate Kornell
  • Elizabeth Ligon Bjork
Research into Practice


Use of highlighting is a prevalent study strategy among students, but evidence regarding its benefit for learning is mixed. We examined highlighting in relation to distributed study and students’ attitudes about highlighting as a study strategy. Participants read a text passage twice while highlighting or not, with their readings either distributed or massed, and followed by a week-delayed test. An overall benefit of highlighting occurred, with highlighting being especially beneficial with massed readings of the passages. Importantly, highlighting did not impair knowledge of non-highlighted information. Interestingly, those students reporting that they did not think highlighting was beneficial or were unsure about its benefits actually benefitted more from highlighting than did students who were pro-highlighting. Overall, our results indicate that under some conditions, highlighting can be a beneficial study strategy for learning and argue for students being trained in how to optimize the potential benefits of their highlighting behavior.


Highlighting Spacing Text marking Metacognitive beliefs about study strategies 



We thank John Nestojko and Gabriela Pocasangre for their contributions to this project. This research was supported by Grant 29192G from the James S. McDonnell Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carole L. Yue
    • 1
  • Benjamin C. Storm
    • 2
  • Nate Kornell
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Ligon Bjork
    • 4
  1. 1.Covenant CollegeLookout MountainUSA
  2. 2.University of California, Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA
  3. 3.Williams CollegeWilliamstonUSA
  4. 4.University of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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