Date of Award

Fall 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Instructional Design & Technology

Committee Director

Gary R. Morrison

Committee Member

Linda Bol

Committee Member

Amy Adcock


A societal shift from print-based to digital texts has afforded the ability to embed reader support within an instructional text. Numerous factors make eBooks an attractive option for colleges and universities, though undergraduates consistently reaffirm a preference for print-based materials. Given that many undergraduates arrive to college with a deficiency in reading comprehension skills and metacognitive awareness, digital text is able to offer an additional layer of support. A sample population of college undergraduates (N = 80) read an expository text on the basics of photography in the form of a fill-in field PDF. The most robust treatment (mixed) read the text, generated a summary for each page of text, and then was prompted with a metacognitive strategy self-question. The metacognitive treatment received metacognitive strategy prompts only, and the cognitive group implemented the cognitive strategy (summarization) only. A control group read the text with no embedded support.

Groups were compared on measures of achievement, attitudes, cognitive load, and metacomprehension and calibration accuracy. Results indicated that a combination of embedded cognitive and metacognitive strategies in digital text improved learner achievement on high-level questions, yielded more accurate predictive calibration, and strengthened the relationship between metacomprehension and performance. Because cognitive load was reported to be significantly higher in the mixed strategy condition, the trade-off between the benefits of embedded reading support and the effects on mental demand should be investigated in more depth. This study found that providing embedded cognitive and metacognitive support in text lead to more accurate calibration and stronger metacomprehension judgments, both of which are common attributes of an academically successful learner.