University of Illinois at Chicago

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What If…? Understanding Reasoning Beyond the Text

posted on 2023-08-01, 00:00 authored by Tricia A Guerrero
Students often struggle to understand complex scientific phenomena from text. While they may be able to demonstrate good memory for what they read, they generally perform more poorly on inference-based questions that depend on their understanding. Inference questions can be further differentiated into those that require the reader to reason about and establish relations between pieces of information found within the text versus those that require the reader to go beyond the information in the text by extending relations into new hypothetical contexts (Reasoning Beyond the Text, RBT). Three studies explored the processes that underlie readers’ ability to reason beyond the text. Experiment 1 interviewed readers as they attempted to answer RBT questions and explored the sources of difficulty that readers face when answering these questions including the processes readers engaged in to understand the question, their reading behaviors, and how they attempted to construct an answer to the question. Interviews showed that readers lack a schema for what this type of question is asking and how to answer it. Experiment 2 tested whether the difficulty associated with answering these questions can be attenuated when readers had better clarification of what this type of question was asking and how to answer it through a test-expectancy manipulation. When readers were provided with an RBT test-expectancy, they performed better on multiple-choice and essay tests that measured memory for concepts in the text as well as the identification of relationships and application of the concepts. Experiment 3 added an adjunct question (AQ) manipulation intended to support readers in engaging in a deeper level of reasoning while reading. AQs provided a limited benefit that extended only to text-based information, and when placed before reading, harmed performance by attenuating the benefits from the RBT test-expectancy.



Wiley, Jennifer


Wiley, Jennifer



Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Griffin, Thomas Pellegrino, James Britt, Anne Millis, Keith

Submitted date

August 2023

Thesis type



  • en

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