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Relationship Between Interest And Importance Of Text As Rated By College Readers
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Nannette Evans Commander, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Maria Valeri-Gold, Ph.D.

Georgia State University
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between two characteristics of text--structural importance and text-based interest--as rated by college readers. Text structure has been defined as the logical connections among ideas with some ideas being more important than others to the author's message (Meyer & Rice, 1984), and text-based interest refers to the interestingness of materials (Hidi & Baird, 1986). College students rated paragraphs in a mixed text (expository material containing narrative anecdotes) for both interest and importance. These ratings were compared to ratings by expert readers of interest and importance for paragraphs of the same passage from a previous study (Jetton & Alexander, 1997). Ratings by college readers were in agreement with ratings by expert readers for main idea paragraphs indicating little relationship between importance and interest. That is, main idea paragraphs were rated as high in importance but low in interest. However, contrary to ratings by expert readers, ratings by college readers for detail paragraphs showed a strong relationship between importance and interest with these paragraphs rated as moderate in importance and interest. When subjects were identified as poor or good readers according to SAT verbal scores, no clear pattern emerged in agreement of ratings with expert readers for either group.


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