The Role of Inhibition in Conceptual Learning from Refutation and Standard Expository Texts
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Text is the primary tool to learn disciplinary knowledge in school. Text-based learning is shaped by a complex interplay between the text and reader characteristics. This study examined the role of text structure and inhibition in conceptual learning about energy. Inhibition implies the ability to block dominant but inappropriate responses automatically activated. Eighty-five fourth and fifth graders were randomly assigned to the condition of standard expository text, or the condition of refutation text in a pre-test, post-test, and delayed post-test design. Findings revealed that students progressed from pre- to post-test and maintained the gained knowledge at delayed post-test regardless of text read. Moreover, only for refutation-text readers inhibition, as measured by response times, uniquely predicted conceptual learning at delayed post-test over and above reading comprehension, prior knowledge, and short-term conceptual learning. The study deepens our understanding of the refutation text effect by revealing its association with the ability to activate inhibitory control and suggesting a previously unexplored benefit of the refutation text for learning science concepts.
KeywordsConceptual change Expository text Inhibition Refutation text Science learning
The authors are very grateful to all the students involved in the study, their parents and teachers, and the school principals.
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