Journal article
Comprehending conflicting science-related texts: graphs as plausibility cues

Publication Details
Isberner, M.; Richter, T.; Maier, J.; Knuth-Herzig, K.; Horz, H.; Schnotz, W.
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Instructional Science
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When reading conflicting science-related texts, readers may attend to cues which allow them to assess plausibility. One such plausibility cue is the use of graphs in the texts, which are regarded as typical of ‘hard science’. The goal of our study was to investigate the effects of the presence of graphs on the perceived plausibility and situation model strength for conflicting science-related texts, while including the influence of readers’ amount of experience with scientific texts and graphs as a potential moderator of these effects. In an experiment mimicking web-based informal learning, 77 university students read texts on controversial scientific issues which were presented with either graphs or tables. Perceived plausibility and situation model strength for each text were assessed immediately after reading; reader variables were assessed several weeks prior to the experiment proper. The results suggest that graphs can indeed serve as plausibility cues and thus boost situation model strength for texts which contain them. This effect was mediated by the perceived plausibility of the information in the texts with graphs. However, whether readers use graphs as plausibility cues in texts with conflicting information seems to depend also on their amount of experience with scientific texts and graphs.

Graphs, Multiple text comprehension, Plausibility, Science text comprehension

Last updated on 2019-25-07 at 13:16