Date of Award

Fall 2002

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

John E Limber


Previous research examining effects of previously existing and reader generated text marking has failed to demonstrate whether or not it is beneficial or detrimental to the reader. Furthermore, whether or not text marking has differential effects on readers of different skill has not been determined. The studies reported here attempted to clarify the questions that remain about the effects of text marking on comprehension, in readers of different skill levels, through analysis of marking in student textbooks as well as through the use of experimental methods.

Study 1 demonstrated that low-skill readers claim to highlight on more occasions when studying, but do not claim to mark more of the text. However, textbook analyses failed to support this finding. Additionally, low-skill readers claim to prefer a previously marked textbook to a greater degree than high-skill readers. Study 2 found that low-skill readers claim to, and use text-marking strategies more often and mark more of the text than high-skill readers. Study 2 also confirmed that low-skill readers report higher preference for studying previously marked texts and a tendency to study only material marked by a previous reader. Finally, Study 2 demonstrated that low-skill readers are less capable of identifying the most relevant material in textbooks and that this inability is related to poorer course performance. The finding that low-skill readers report greater reliance on previously marked material, use text-marking strategies more often, and are less capable of identifying the most relevant material suggests that many low-skill readers study irrelevant material in textbooks. Study 3 examined the effects of irrelevant text marking on comprehension and found that low-skill readers are differentially affected by the presence of irrelevant marking, such that the study of text containing irrelevant marking leads to poorer comprehension. Practical implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.