How do students navigate and learn from nonlinear science texts: Can metanavigation support promote science learning?

Date of Completion

January 2003


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Sciences




Digital texts which are based on hypertext and hypermedia technologies are now being used to support science learning. Hypertext offers certain opportunities for learning as well as difficulties that challenge readers to become metacognitively aware of their navigation decisions in order to trade both meaning and structure while reading. The goal of this study was to investigate whether supporting sixth grade students to monitor and regulate their navigation behavior while reading from hypertext would lead to better navigation and learning. Metanavigation support in the form of prompts was provided to groups of students who used a hypertext system called CoMPASS to complete a design challenge. The metanavigation prompts aimed at encouraging students to understand the affordances of the navigational aids in CoMPASS and use them to guide their navigation. ^ The study was conducted in a real classroom setting during the implementation of CoMPASS in sixth grade science classes. Multiple sources of group and individual data were collected and analyzed. Measures included student's individual performance in a pre-science knowledge test, the Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory (MARSI), a reading comprehension test and a concept map test. Process measures included log file information that captured group navigation paths during the use of CoMPASS. The results suggested that providing metanavigation support enabled the groups to make coherent transitions among the text units. Findings also revealed that reading comprehension, presence of metanavigation support and prior domain knowledge significantly predicted students' individual understanding of science. Implications for hypertext design and literacy research fields are discussed. ^