Reading and Writing

, Volume 31, Issue 7, pp 1525–1549 | Cite as

An exploratory study of middle-school learners’ historical reading in an internet environment

  • Byeong-Young ChoEmail author
  • Hyeju Han
  • Linda L. Kucan


We investigated seventh-grade students’ use of Internet sources as they engaged in an online inquiry about a historical event. The participating students read on the Internet individually in order to better understand the given historical event, navigating the Internet and examining different online texts they identified as useful sources for learning. The primary data sources were the think-aloud protocols that the students generated during the task. These verbal data were analyzed to reveal the students’ strategic processing of multiple Internet sources for the purpose of historical learning. The students’ verbal reporting data indicate that a shortage of prior knowledge and incorrect associations of the knowledge activated in reading are not helpful for learning important ideas from historical online reading. The data also suggest that engaging in the processes of finding textual evidence from more than one source of information and using that evidence to take sensemaking one step further may help a student learn more accurately. Based on the results, we discuss implications for teaching and learning to help students become more historically informed strategic readers in a digital age.


Digital literacy Disciplinary literacy Multiple text comprehension Historical thinking Middle school learners Verbal protocol analysis 



The study described in this manuscript was supported by the University of Pittsburgh School of Education’s Faculty Seed Grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Instruction and Learning, Learning Research and Development CenterUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Instruction and LearningUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Department of Instruction and LearningUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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