November 09, 2017
Jennifer Stiegler-Balfour, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology, along with her co-authors Krisztina Jakobsen (James Madison University), Michael Stroud (Merrimack College) and David Daniel (James Madison University), presented new findings from a study on the effects of distracting information such as parenthetical in-text citations on reading comprehension of individuals with varying reading skills.
The presentation, titled “Is It Time to Drop APA-Style Citations in Introductory Texts? Evidence from a reading study,” examines the effect of in-text APA citations on quiz performance as a function of reading skill. Participants also completed the Multi-media Comprehension Battery (MMCB) to gauge their reading comprehension ability. The study results indicated that less-skilled readers performed significantly lower on a comprehension quiz in the APA citation condition compared to the no citation condition and spent less time reading in the APA citation condition compared to the no citation condition. In contrast, skilled readers performed equally well on the comprehension quiz and read at the same speed regardless of the presence of APA citations.
The results of this study challenge the utility of APA-style in-text citations in textbooks targeted at students and, more importantly, at moderate-to-poor readers.
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