Text-Comprehension Strategies Based on Outlines: Immediate and Long-Term Effects

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1985


Prior to studying an instructional text, college students were given either a topically relevant outline or a topically irrelevant (control) outline and asked to generate propositions about the topics by drawing upon their existing knowledge. The results indicate that comprehension was highest among those students who activated relevant prior knowledge before text study, and who were again provided with an outline of that knowledge during testing. The measure of comprehension used here was total meaningful recall: It included text propositions plus valid elaborations based on the interaction of text information and students' existing knowledge. The results of conceptual clustering analyses suggest that organization was one of the mechanisms by which topical outlines increased meaningful recall. Additional analyses conducted only on the elaborations indicate that students produced more of them during long-term (six week) recall than during immediate recall.