This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Effects of Font Type of Embedded Key Terms on Judgments of Learning and Memory from Textbooks




Andrew, Roberts

Type of Degree





Previous research by Rhodes and Castel (2008) provided evidence that metacognitive predictions of future memory performance (i.e. judgments of learning (JOLs)), are significantly affected by perceptual information (i.e. font size) present during learning with no actual benefits to memory. Based on these findings, the current study investigated whether font changes used to emphasize key terms within texts (i.e. bold font) affect metacognition and reading comprehension. Participants read two texts that contained five embedded key terms (per passage) that were presented in either bold or non-bold fonts and were counterbalance for topic and font. For each passage, participants provided two global-level JOLs (i.e. predictions based on their memory for the entire passage prior to and immediately following testing), several term-specific JOLs (i.e. memory predictions for each key term), and completed a multiple choice test that consisted of an equal number of term-specific and inference-based questions (five questions per type). In addition to JOLs and performance, participants’ reading ability and working memory were evaluated to determine if individual differences predicted differences in the effects of key term font on JOLs and memory. Results from the current study did not provide evidence that bold key terms influences either global or term-specific JOLs; however, reading ability did significantly predict differences in performance and in some cases, differences in participants bias when making JOLs. Evidence was also present to suggest that under certain circumstances, embedded bold key terms can significantly improve performance based on text difficulty.