Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Effects of Inappropriate Highlighting

MARC ABRAHAMS, GUARDIAN - Vicki Silvers and David Kreiner, of Central Missouri State University, [have written a] study called The Effects of Pre-Existing Inappropriate Highlighting on Reading Comprehension. "Textbook highlighting is a common study strategy among college students," Silvers and Kreiner wrote. Then they described their experiments.

First, they had students read a passage of text. Some students had text that was highlighted appropriately. Some had text that was highlighted inappropriately. Others had spartan, un-highlighted text. Silvers and Kreiner then tested how well the students comprehended the text. Those with the inappropriate highlighting scored much lower than the others. A second experiment showed that even when students were warned about the inappropriate highlighting, they had trouble ignoring it.

In 2002, Silvers and Kreiner were awarded the Ig Nobel literature prize. At the awards ceremony, they offered one piece of advice: "Don't buy a textbook that was highlighted by an idiot."

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