Effects of Headings on Text Processing Strategies

Rebecca Polley Sanchez, Elizabeth Pugzles Lorch, Robert F. Lorch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


This experiment addressed the question of how headings influence readers’ memories for text content. College students read and recalled a 12-topic expository text. Half of the participants were trained to construct a mental outline of the text’s topic structure as they read and then use their mental outlines to guide their recall attempts. The remaining participants did not receive such training. Half of the participants read a text containing headings before every subsection; the other half read the same text without headings. The results were that participants who received training and/or read the text with headings remembered text topics and their organization better than participants who received no training and read the text without headings. The results support the hypothesis that signals induce a change in readers’ strategies for encoding and recalling text.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-428
Number of pages11
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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