This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Effects of Bold Key Terms on Judgments of Learning and Reading Comprehension




Roberts, Andrew

Type of Degree





People often use different types of available information as cues to make inferences about memory (Koriat, 1997). When these cues are unreliable predictors of memory (like font size), metacognitive illusions can ensue (Mueller, Dunlosky, Tauber, & Rhodes, 2014). Extending upon Rhodes and Castel’s (2008) findings that perceptual fluency cues within word list can produce metacognitive illusions, this dissertation presents a pilot study and two experiments that attempted to determine whether the presence of bold key terms within reading passages produces similar metacognitive illusions. The pilot study revealed that regardless of reading ability, bold font increased immediate confidence judgments (i.e., judgments of learning (JOLs)) without increasing comprehension. Building off these findings, Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 incorporated a delayed-JOL paradigm (see Maki 1998a) to attempt to improve judgment accuracy by reducing the likelihood that font would affect judgements. However, both experiments demonstrated low reading ability participants’ judgments were still influenced by bold font even after a delay resulting in larger JOLs (there was a significant effect in Experiment 2). Although test performance was significantly better for bold terms in Experiment 1 when key terms were always correct answers during testing, bold did not improve test performance in Experiment 2 when each question’s stem contain a specific key term because recall was necessary to answer questions. Across these studies, participants were not particularly accurate at evaluating their memory which suggests bold key terms can produce metacognitive illusions by leading to higher expectations of comprehension than those achieved.