Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies

Committee Director

Ginger S. Watson

Committee Member

John W. Baaki

Committee Member

Philip A. Reed


Research has shown that using hard-to-read fonts in a reading assignment is an external way to manipulate text to slow down the learner’s task completion time, giving more time on task and improving the learner’s ability to comprehend and retain the content (Alter & Oppenheimer, 2009b). This novelty effect interferes with the legibility of the reading material, but not the readability. This study is focused on using hard-to-read fonts, also referred to as disfluent fonts, to cue the learner to important information that may lead to more cognitive engagement and processing. Facing the visual challenge of a disfluent font, the learner’s curiosity intrinsically motivates the learner to make sense of the content. Visually disfluent fonts, integrated into instructional materials can be used as an instructional intervention strategy to increase cognitive engagement, leading to deeper processing (Bjork, 1994). Deeper encodings increase time spent on task and have been associated with higher levels of achievement and better mental retrieval (Craik & Tulving, 1975). While this study did not show any significant effects for using a disfluent font for cueing on achievement score, time, cognitive load or perception of the reading task, limitations are discussed for consideration in future research.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).