The University of Arizona

Is comprehending text the same as learning from text?

Deirdre J. Derrick

Abstract


The purpose of this study is to provide initial validity evidence for a test of learning from text, that is, reading to learn. It is grounded in theoretical and empirical evidence that the ability to read for general comprehension is not the same as the ability to read to learn (e.g., Carver, 1990; Enright et al., 2000; Grabe, 2009; Koda & Yamashita, 2015). Most transfer of information in higher education occurs through text, making the ability to learn from text a crucial skill for university success. This study examines reading to learn in first and second language readers of English. It compares two tests, one of reading for general comprehension and one of reading to learn, in an effort to determine if these two tests are measuring the same construct or two related but different constructs. Performance on the tests as well as participants’ perceptions of the tests are compared. Test performance supports the argument that reading for general comprehension and reading to learn are related but distinct constructs. Participant perceptions of the tests do not support this interpretation, but this may be a result of the limitations of using self-report data.

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