Refutation texts enhance spontaneous transfer of knowledge

Katinka Beker, Jasmine Kim, Martin Van Boekel, Paul van den Broek, Panayiota A Kendeou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In this study, we investigated whether refutation texts (i.e., texts that explicitly state and refute a misconception) facilitate spontaneous transfer of revised knowledge to new situations. In Experiments 1 and 2, students read refutation, transfer, and non-refutation texts. Transfer texts were either preceded by refutation (Experiment 1) or non-refutation texts (Experiment 2). In both experiments, comprehension of the transfer texts required activation and use of the correct belief. Each text contained a target sentence that was consistent with the correct belief. In both experiments, reading times of the target sentences were collected and compared to provide an implicit measure of transfer. Additionally, a transfer problem test was also administered after reading the texts to assess transfer in a more explicit way. The results revealed that refutation texts are more effective in facilitating revision and spontaneous transfer of revised knowledge than non-refutation texts. These results add to the growing body of evidence for the applicability of using refutation texts in revising misconceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is part of the research program Brain and Cognition: Societal Innovation in Health, Education and Safety (HCMI), which is financed by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), under grant number 056-33-018. The research reported in this paper has been made possible through support from the Leiden Brain & Education Lab, the Reading + Language Lab at the University of Minnesota, the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, and the Leiden University Fund/van Walsem. The authors wish to thank the students who participated in the experiments and research assistant Bader Mohsen who collected the data for Experiment 2.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • Knowledge revision
  • Refutation text
  • Transfer
  • Transfer text


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