The participants did not search for the documents themselves, rather the texts used in the studies were presented as credible sources and the readers did not have to decide which to trust. Usually, the texts were equally relevant to the target questions. In one exceptional study, Anmarkrud et al. The various sets of texts had two types of relationships between them: 42 studies used texts that represented a major conflict.
Eleven studies used texts that presented different aspects of an issue or texts that complemented each other. For example, Goldman et al. The different reasons did not contradict each other but rather supported each other. Three studies used two research conditions, one with conflicting texts and another with contradictory texts. Nineteen studies used essay writing as a measure of MTI, eight studies used open ended questions, and three used oral questions. Regarding essay writing, readers typically received a specific question to answer and elaborate instructions regarding what the essay should contain.
Usually, the researchers developed a set of specific categories for coding the essays. In other cases, essays were separated into idea units and divided into categories such as paraphrasing, elaborations, etc. Two other scoring systems used were examining whether the relevant information was included in the answer, and scoring the essay holistically not by dividing it into units according to the quality and quantity of arguments. This was also the common coding system for open ended questions e. Other coding systems for open ended questions were coding the content according to specific categories or idea units, as explained above.
The same types of coding systems were used when integration was measured with oral questions.
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The written products were typically assessed by two judges, disagreements were solved through discussions, and the percentage of interrater agreement was reported. The common measure was the sentence verification task e. This task is comprised of phrases that combine information from different sentences in the various texts, or a combination of information from the text with information that was not written explicitly, in a way that forms either a valid or invalid inference.
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They note that although this seems to be lower than desired, data from the same study conducted in English indicated that participants who included more relevant information from most of the texts in their essays and linked information from the different texts performed much better on the intertextual inference verification task compared to participants who included less information and had difficulty integrating the texts. Another receptive measure used is multiple choice comprehension questions Britt and Sommer, ; Le Bigot and Rouet, In addition, Wineburg asked participants to choose a picture that best matches the integration of the texts.
Comparisons between assessments were scarcely reported and more empirical research is needed in order to compare the various measures. Griffin et al. They reported that the two measures of MTI correlated only modestly with each other, but correlated similarly with other variables. In contrast, Gil et al. They found positive intercorrelations within and across the MTI measures and presented this as support for the validity of the dependent measures.
Expressive tasks appear to have higher reliability compared to receptive tasks and they are considered to measure deeper levels of integration. Coding schemes used to evaluate integration products were heterogeneous. Regarding the assessment of expressive tasks, we found that assessment categories that belonged to the first level of selecting information were most prevalent There were 23 instances of generating intertextual relationships, and only eight examples of inference making.
A different pattern was found for receptive tasks. The most prevalent level was generating intertext relationships 27 compared to selecting information 8 and inference making 5. In both expressive and receptive assessments, most coding schemes focused on the conceptual level of integration, and to a lesser extent on the rhetorical and linguistic level. Interestingly, we found at times that a task had the potential of encouraging readers to generate new inferences.
However, the assessment method did not relate to instances of inference making, but only to information selecting e. Therefore, it seems that the level and type of integration the reader exhibits is related to the choice of texts, tasks, and assessment categories. Think aloud protocols provide some insight on the cognitive processes that take place when readers integrate texts and on the strategies used.
The aim of the current review was to map which types of text integration were examined in empirical research. We reviewed 50 studies and noticed meaningful differences as well as similarities between them. Regarding the texts utilized in MTI tasks, we found that they were frequently contradictory e. Fewer studies used complementary texts, and other types of relationships were not reported. Goldman noted that the research should develop taxonomies of intertextual relations that explain how readers process multiple texts, in order to detect these relationships and how they are related to features of texts.
Goldman gave examples not only of texts that agree or disagree, but also of texts that overlap in terms of content, or texts that explain one another. Regarding the tasks, one salient finding was that in all the studies we reviewed the participants were given scaffolds in the form of a specific inquiry question. The inquiry question often served as a criterion that assisted the readers in selecting the relevant information from each text and in detecting associations between the texts.
Readers either had to locate conflicts between the texts or join together pieces of information. We encountered no cases where participants were given a set of texts and were required to generate a title, an inquiry question, or conclusions by themselves. Another possible integration task would be to present students with the same texts attached to questions asking about the relationship between the texts or about conclusions that can be derived from them. In this manner, students would be encouraged to employ higher level thinking, to generate generalizations, and to form their own categorizations.
As for assessment methods, we found variations in assessments of integration tasks that reflected different conceptualizations. First, we found differences between receptive and expressive tasks in the types of integration measures as well as in the reported reliability. Second, the various scoring systems of expressive measures gave different weight to the conceptual, rhetorical, and linguistic level.
While some essay scoring systems considered the structure and coherence of the argument e. Third, among the three integration categories that we chose to use, the salient ones were selecting information and generating relationships. The category of inference making that related to transforming the information and producing new information was used less often.
We argue that the type of text, task, and assessment method employed focused on the literal level of the texts. Providing readers with a specific inquiry question serves as a scaffold for generating intertext links. In addition, using conflicting texts and the assessment methods described above focus only on selecting information and creating intertext relationships.
We propose that more attention should be assigned to MTI that does not include scaffolds. Assessment methods described here rarely asked students to integrate texts in a way that transforms knowledge or creates new categories. We therefore wish to suggest which types of integration are currently missing from empirical research and theoretical models.
As stated earlier, we propose that MTI tasks should also include tasks where readers generate their own categories for integration. This involves generalization and abstraction , which we consider to be higher level processes because they build on selecting information and synthesis and require the person to create his own category relevant to the texts rather than using an existing one. For example, a person may read three texts by the same author and conclude that all the texts deal with family relationships.
Generalizing is therefore a form of creating new knowledge. This knowledge is not absolute, and is subject to change if new information appears, such as a new text by the same author that deals with different issues. Abstraction refers to the process of disregarding contingent details for the sake of reaching the essence of a certain object. An example might be recognizing a common underlying assumption across several texts, or designing a rule or a theoretical model based on several concrete situations. In these cases several features of objects are ignored in order to reveal core similarities between them.
Generalization and abstraction are common in academic settings. Scholars read articles describing specific findings and generate synthesis, organization of information, generalizations, and abstractions on a daily basis. One type of integration involves recognizing main ideas and similar themes and understanding whether the findings support or contradict each other and how they relate to previous findings.
A higher level of integration would be performing generalizations and abstractions, reaching general conclusions, and identifying a common essence of the various texts. Imagine, for example, a student reading several journal articles about various variables that predict reading comprehension. Other examples might be reading different works of the same writer to describe common elements in his or her work, or reading different studies and exposing similarities and differences in the underlying theoretical models.
Integration based on generalization and abstraction is common in academic contexts, and in these situations the relationships between the texts, the reading goal or task, can be different than those presented in experimental studies. Similarities between texts are more implicit, non-concrete, and are sometimes not found on the text base level but only on the situation model level. The texts might share core features that the readers need to extract, generalize, and abstract. The relationships between the texts are less structured and clear, and the reading goal may also be less specific.
Instead of one correct answer, there might be different options of information integration. We wish to incorporate the main themes from the definitions presented earlier and to suggest that MTI is a process of linking pieces of information from various texts and their sources. Links are formed on the basis of identifying similarities and differences, as well as on inference making on different levels of the text, such as the textbase and the situation model Kintsch, , MTI results in several possible types of links between texts: extracting relevant ideas, synthesis, generalization, and abstraction.
The type of integration that takes place depends on the reader, the task, the reading activity, and the context Snow, Readers can be more or less likely to reach different types of integration.
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The intertextual approach means trying to link as much information as possible, and the resistant approach refers to criticizing the texts and arguing with them. Thus, certain readers will pursue higher order integration even when dealing with simple texts and tasks, and when the assignments are freer in nature, the various readers will exhibit different types of integration.
In addition, research has suggested that MTI is a difficult task that often does not occur spontaneously Rouet, ; Rouet and Britt, Furthermore, differences between experts and novices reading multiple texts in their field of expertise have been demonstrated e. Thus, examination of MTI with texts that hold a variety of interrelations might yield other types of synthesis and integration.
Regarding the role of the task in integration assignments, it is possible that designing different types of tasks would result in higher levels of integration. First, different types of inquiry questions might direct the reader to different levels of integration. Specific and direct inquiry questions indeed direct the reader to analysis, synthesis, and coherent organization of information Goldman et al. However, tasks with less scaffolding have the potential of directing the reader to reach higher levels of integration.
A question that is general rather than specific can also lead to a larger variety of questions. Second, it is possible that within the context of a research design that includes a time constraint and an encounter with new texts, reaching the highest levels of integration is extremely challenging. Perhaps in more natural settings, when dealing with familiar topics with more time in hand, readers have the potential of reaching higher levels of integration.
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Multiple text integration is a complex concept that builds on different processes and skills and is influenced by variables related to the reader, the texts, and the reading activity Snow, ; List and Alexander, In this paper we sought to map how MTI is assessed in current research. We argue that more research is needed in order to compare between text integration tasks and that current MTI research does not represent the wide variety of MTI situations.
More specifically, we suggest that empirical studies have focused on integration that is scaffolded. We believe that this review has both theoretical and practical importance. First, this work extends our understanding of the essence of integration and serves as an initial taxonomy of types and levels of integration that will eventually lead to a deeper and broader understanding of integration processes.
This work is therefore important not only for multiple text research but also for single text reading research, as the concept of integration is relevant to any form of reading comprehension. On the practical level, we pointed to a lack of studies that examine the highest levels of integration common in academia, in the work of scholars and students, as they read specific findings and are required to reach general conclusions.
Thus, research of integration in the form of generalization and abstraction will extend our knowledge of these processes, which could later be used to promote integration among students. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
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