The Influence of Thematic Displays on the Comprehension of Text

ABSTRACT THE INFLUENCE OF THEMATIC DISPLAYS ON THE COMPREHENSION OF TEXT by William Battinich Master of Arts in Psychology Psychological Science Option California State University, Chico Spring 2009 The current investigation was designed to examine whether decorative graphics can function as thematic displays and whether these displays can influence learnersâ comprehension of textual material. Learners were presented with a text describing the positive and negative aspects of romantic relationship with or without an accompanying thematic display. Some researchers have suggested that decorative graphics do not improve the recall of text nor increase the quality of learning outcomes. However, our results suggest that decorative graphics can act as thematic displays and also influence comprehension processes involved with the both the graphic and text. Our results demonstrate that thematic displays can activate a learnerâ s schema of a topic, thereby creating noticeable differences in the type of prior knowledge they bring to mind while processing textual material. Furthermore, the type of prior knowledge viii that the learners incorporated into their essays about romantic relationships was distinctly different depending on which thematic display was viewed.