Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Laura K Allen

Second Advisor

Edward J. O'Brien

Third Advisor

Caitlin S. Mills


Multiple document (MD) comprehension is of growing interest in the Internet age, in which reading material is readily available from multiple sources. However, comprehension research has typically been dominated by studies investigating single documents (Bråten et al., 2019; McNamara & Magliano, 2009). This dissertation applies a memory-based approach traditionally used in research on single document comprehension to a MD context, with the goal of understanding the on-line processing and integration of information from multiple documents. Expository-style passages were created in which the first half contained information that was either consistent or inconsistent with a target sentence in the second half. A series of experiments measured reading times on the target sentences when the passage halves were presented as one single passage (Experiment I & IV) or as two separate passages, which were presented either consecutively (Experiment II & IV) or interleaved with an unrelated passage (Experiment III & IV). Reading time data revealed that, for all passage presentations, reading times were longer in the inconsistent condition compared to the consistent. These results indicate that information from earlier in the text or from previous passages was being reactivated and, when inconsistent, impacting on-line processing. In Experiment IV, a post-reading measure of memory for the inconsistencies revealed that participants’ memory was better when the inconsistency occurred across passages compared to when it occurred within a single passage.