Digital multimedia reading comprehension

Mentor: Eliane Segers


Reading comprehension of linear text is well understood, and models such as those of Perfetti and Staura (2014, Reading Systems Framework) set a clear framework for the reading comprehension process. When online, however, readers are most often confronted with multimedia texts. These may include hypertexts, requiring the integration of multiple documents, and decision making on whether or not to click on hyperlinks. Also pictures or spoken text are often included, and as such the reader has to comprehend multimedia documents. The Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (Mayer, 2002) proposes how combinations of different modalities impact learning.

In your research project, you may come up with ideas to further the understanding of digital multimedia comprehension (see e.g. Van den Broek et al., 2014). You could, for example, study children with various levels of reading comprehension ability and find out whether different types of multimedia texts may help them to gain better understanding (see also Klois et al, 2013). It is then interesting to also take the process of learning into account, by logging the actions of the children.


You study children or adolescents in schools. The design of the study could be a within-subjects repeated measures design in which particpants are compared on the comprehension of two types of texts. Before the reading comprehension task, individual measures will be assessed, such as decoding ability, vocabulary knowledge etc. The goal is to understand learning, and explain individual variation in learning (see e.g. Segers & Verhoeven, 2009). When taking the process of reaing into account, you can perform mediation analyses (Hayes, 2013) and explain reading comprehension from individual variation through the reading process.


  • Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. Guilford Press.
  • Klois, S. S., Segers, E., & Verhoeven, L. (2013). How hypertext fosters children’s knowledge acquisition: Role of graphic overview and text structure. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 2047 - 2057.
  • Mayer, R. E. (2002). Multimedia learning. Psychology of learning and motivation, 41, 85-139.
  • Perfetti, C., & Stafura, J. (2014). Word knowledge in a theory of reading comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 18(1), 22-37.
  • Segers, E., & Verhoeven, L. (2009). Learning in a sheltered internet environment: The use of WebQuests. Learning & Instruction 19, 423 – 432.
  • Van den Broek, G., Segers, E., & Verhoeven, L. (2014). Effects of text modality in multimedia presentations on written and oral performance. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30, 438 - 449.