Prior knowledge, reading skill, and text cohesion in the comprehension of science texts

Yasuhiro Ozuru, Kyle Dempsey, Danielle S. McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

273 Scopus citations


This study examined how text features (i.e., cohesion) and individual differences (i.e., reading skill and prior knowledge) contribute to biology text comprehension. College students with low and high levels of biology knowledge read two biology texts, one of which was high in cohesion and the other low in cohesion. The two groups were similar in reading skill. Participants' text comprehension was assessed with open-ended comprehension questions that measure different levels of comprehension (i.e., text-based, local-bridging, global-bridging). Results indicated: (a) reading a high-cohesion text improved text-based comprehension; (b) overall comprehension was positively correlated with participants' prior knowledge, and (c) the degree to which participants benefited from reading a high-cohesion text depended on participants' reading skill, such that skilled participants gained more from high-cohesion text.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-242
Number of pages15
JournalLearning and Instruction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Reading skill
  • Science learning
  • Text cohesion
  • Text comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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