Individual Differences in Structure Building: Impacts on Comprehension and Learning, Theoretical Underpinnings, and Support for Less Able Structure Builders.
In this article, we highlight an underappreciated individual difference: structure building. Structure building is integral to many everyday activities and involves creating coherent mental representations of conversations, texts, pictorial stories, and other events. People vary in this ability in a way not generally captured by other better known concepts and individual difference measures. Individuals with lower structure-building ability consistently perform worse on a range of comprehension and learning measures than do individuals with higher structure-building ability, both in the laboratory and in the classroom. Problems include a range of comprehension processes, including encoding factual content, inhibiting irrelevant information, and constructing a cohesive situation model of a text or conversation. Despite these problems, recent research is encouraging in that techniques to improve the learning outcomes for low-ability structure builders have been identified. We argue that the accumulated research warrants the recognition of structure building as an important individual difference in cognitive functioning and that additional theoretical work is needed to understand the underpinnings of structure-building deficits.
McDaniel, MA; Marsh, EJ; Gouravajhala, R
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