Topic Structure Representation and Text Recall

Robert F. Lorch, Elizabeth Pugzles Lorch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations

Abstract

It was hypothesized that readers represent a text's topics and their interrelations as they read, then use their representations to access information about each topic. In two experiments, college subjects were required to read and free recall an expository text. Experiment 1 manipulated both the order of topics in the stimulus text and whether or not the introductory paragraph stated the topics and their organization. Subjects recalled information about fewer topics if the topics were randomly ordered and the introductory paragraph was uninformative than if topics were logically ordered or if the introductory paragraph was informative. Differences in recall of topics explained much of the variance in overall recall and in recall errors. In Experiment 2, subjects recalled information about more topics if the text contained topic sentences than if it did not. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that readers use a representation of a text's topic structure to guide recall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-148
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Volume77
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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