Informing the Design of Future Literacy Technologies with Theories of Cognitive Science

Informing the Design of Future Literacy Technologies with Theories of Cognitive Science

Michael C. Mensink (University of Wisconsin-Stout, USA), Mark Rose Lewis (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA) and Jeremy Wang (University of Minnesota, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch245

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Textual information is increasingly disseminated via virtual media such as the World Wide Web or mobile applications, as opposed to physical media like books or newspapers (Goldman, Braasch, Wiley, Graesser, & Brodowinska, 2011). These new media offer numerous potential advantages over paper-based media; however, there are no commonly recognized guidelines for how these new literacy technologies can be designed to support comprehension and learning. Thankfully, cognitive theories of how humans comprehend and learn from texts can help to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of literacy technologies, now and in the future (Rohrer & Pashler, 2010; Sparks & Rapp, 2011). In this article, we discuss developments from basic and applied research in cognitive psychology that can help inform the design of new literacy technologies. New technologies simultaneously present exciting new possibilities (e.g., the ability to dynamically tailor texts) as well as new obstacles to learning (e.g., the facilitation of distracting task-switching). In this article, we discuss empirically derived evidence from cognitive research that can help inform design decisions that will maximize comprehension and learning while overcoming potential threats to understanding that are associated with new technologies.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Memory Products: The mental representations created and accessed by the human cognitive system after reading a text.

Human Cognitive System: The source of all mental processes and products, arising from complex neural activity in the brain.

Dynamic Text Comprehension: A cognitive model of reading comprehension that identifies text, reader, and situational factors as interactive sources of influence.

Working Memory: The limited pool of cognitive resources dedicated to both short-term storage and processing.

Long Term Memory: The cognitive system that stores information for the long-term.

Cognitive Processes: The mental activities of the human cognitive system; for example attention, word decoding, oral language understanding, and reading comprehension.

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