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Title:Discourse structure and mental models
Author(s):Bock, J. Kathryn; Brewer, William F.
Subject(s):text comprehension
mental models
local text information
global text structures
Abstract:In this paper we argue that text comprehension can be viewed as the process of constructing mental models from texts. We suggest that the construction of mental models involves the use of local text information, global text structures, and the reader's general knowledge of the world. We analyze the literature on children's understanding of spoken discourse and conclude that young children are capable of forming mental models from texts, but that their overall level of comprehension may be limited by factors such as limited general knowledge, inexperience in constructing certain types of mental models, unfamiliarity with particular global text structures, difficulty in understanding anaphoric expressions, and constraints on memory. We contrast the comprehension of spoken discourse with the comprehension of written text. We conclude that written text taps a wider range of general knowledge, shows different forms of discourse organization, uses different anaphoric devices, and provides less contextual support than spoken discourse. Finally we discuss the implications of this analysis for reading in terms of the transfer of oral comprehension skills to the understanding of written text. We suggest that the transfer should be relatively easy for narrative texts but more difficult for expository texts.
Issue Date:1985-11
Publisher:Champaign, Ill. : University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Center for the Study of Reading.
Cambridge, Mass. : Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc.
Series/Report:Center for the Study of Reading Technical Report ; no. 343
Genre:Technical Report
Rights Information:Copyright 1985 Board of Trustees University of Illinois
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-05-30
Identifier in Online Catalog:5305231
OCLC Identifier:18320566

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