Instructional Science

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 257–277 | Cite as

The concreteness of titles affects metacognition and study motivation

  • Marie LippmannEmail author
  • Neil H. Schwartz
  • Neil G. Jacobson
  • Susanne Narciss


Two experiments investigated the extent to which the concreteness of titles affects metacognitive text expectations, study motivation, and comprehension test performance. Sixty-three American and 61 German students were presented with three titles (either concrete or abstract), based upon which the students estimated their expected ease-of-comprehension, and the expected interestingness, of three expository texts. Students also reported how motivated they were to study the texts. The students then studied the texts and completed comprehension tests. The results revealed that students expected texts with concrete (as opposed to abstract) titles to be easier to comprehend and more interesting, and were more motivated to study those texts. Structural Equation Modelling revealed that the effects of titles on reported study motivation were mediated by expected interestingness. In addition to that, expected interestingness and reported study motivation were partially mediated by expected ease-of-comprehension. Comprehension test performance was not affected. The results provide robust evidence for positive motivational effects of concrete titles. More specifically, the results indicate that concrete titles—which are specific and easy to imagine—promote students’ motivation to study expository texts by encouraging the students to expect that they will find the texts interesting, and that they will be able to understand the texts.


Titles Concreteness Metacognition Motivation Text comprehension 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State University ChicoChicoUSA
  2. 2.Rossier School of EducationUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Psychology of Learning and InstructionTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany

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