The interplay of reader goals, working memory, and text structure during reading

Catherine M. Bohn-Gettler, Panayiota Kendeou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


In the current study we examined the complex interactions of instructional context, text properties, and reader characteristics during comprehension. College students were tasked with the goal of reading for study versus entertainment (instructional context) while thinking-aloud about four different expository text structures (text properties). Working memory also was assessed (reader characteristics). Reading goals and working memory interacted to influence paraphrasing and non-coherence processes when thinking aloud. Reading goals, working memory, and text structure all interacted to influence text-based inferences. Text structure also influenced knowledge-based inferences. Post-reading recall was highest for those with the instructional goal of reading for study (compared to entertainment), as well as for problem-response and compare-contrast texts (compared to descriptive and chronological texts). Implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-219
Number of pages14
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Health ( T32-HD007151 ) and the Center for Cognitive Sciences, University of Minnesota . We thank Jennifer Hodgson, Kaitlyn Wahlsten, and Mohsina Ahmed for their assistance in conducting this study. We also thank David Rapp for his valuable feedback.


  • Comprehension
  • Reading goals
  • Text structure
  • Think-aloud
  • Working memory


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