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Fostering multiple text comprehension: How metacognitive strategies and motivation moderate the text-belief consistency effect

Abstract

Learners often have difficulties comprehending multiple texts about controversial scientific issues. In particular, learners with strong prior beliefs tend to construct a one-sided mental representation that is biased towards belief-consistent information (text-belief consistency effect). In the present study we examined the effectiveness of information of three metacognitive strategies tailored to strengthen the comprehension of belief-inconsistent information during multiple text comprehension. According to theories of self-regulated learning, knowledge about relevant metacognitive strategies improves comprehension only when learners are also motivated to use these strategies. These hypotheses were investigated in an experiment in which 85 participants read one belief-consistent and one belief-inconsistent text about a controversial scientific issue. Participants either received information about three metacognitive strategies or no additional information. In addition, participants’ motivation was manipulated by providing them with either negative or positive performance feedback or no feedback. As predicted, a text-belief consistency effect was found, which was eliminated by strengthening the situation model for the belief-inconsistent text only when learners received information about relevant metacognitive strategies and were motivated to use these strategies after positive performance feedback.

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Acknowledgments

The research reported in this article was supported by the German Research Association (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG, grant RI 1100/5–1 and grant RI 1100/5–2). We would like to thank Irina Fix, Sven Gruß, Markus Kumsteller, Lina Krüger, Sascha Müller and Veronika Schmitt for their help in preparing stimulus materials and collecting data.

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Correspondence to Johanna Maier.

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Maier, J., Richter, T. Fostering multiple text comprehension: How metacognitive strategies and motivation moderate the text-belief consistency effect. Metacognition Learning 9, 51–74 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11409-013-9111-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11409-013-9111-x

Keywords

  • Beliefs
  • Metacognition
  • Multiple text comprehension
  • Motivation
  • Validation