Knowledge, interest, and reading comprehension: A general linear model for social studies

Date of Completion

January 2003


Education, Tests and Measurements|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Secondary




This study explored the role of knowledge and interest in reading comprehension on middle school students in grades 7 and 8 (n = 276). Two forms of prior knowledge were investigated (domain and topic) as well as two forms of interest (individual and situational). The influence of seductive details was also investigated. A pre/post design was employed. At pre-test, the students' prior knowledge of the revolutionary era and individual interest in social studies topics was assessed. One week later, the students read one of four texts about the French Revolution. The first version discussed the French Revolution with an emphasis on the violence that occurred during the revolution. The second version is identical to version one but it included seductive details about the guillotine. The third version was a general textbook discussion of the French Revolution. The fourth version was identical to version three but it included the same seductive details about the guillotine found in version two. Students then completed two reading comprehension measures: a free recall task and five open-ended item questions. Students completed the same knowledge and interest measures as in the pre-test. They also rated the text's interest. The results of these measures were subjected to an exploratory general linear model using canonical correlation analysis. Overall, domain knowledge and situational interest were strongly related to reading comprehension among middle school students, regardless of text type. A seductive detail effect was not found. ^