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Evidence for Mental Models: How Do Prior Knowledge, Syntactic Complexity, and Reading Topic Affect Inference Generation in a Recall Task for Nonnative Readers of Spanish?

Sue Barry and Alejandro A. Lazarte
The Modern Language Journal
Vol. 82, No. 2 (Summer, 1998), pp. 176-193
DOI: 10.2307/329207
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/329207
Page Count: 18
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Evidence for Mental Models: How Do Prior Knowledge, Syntactic Complexity, and Reading Topic Affect Inference Generation in a Recall Task for Nonnative Readers of Spanish?
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Abstract

This study tested how domain-related knowledge, syntactic complexity, and reading topic influence inference generation in the written recalls of English-speaking participants after they read Spanish historical texts. Three types of inferences were examined: within-text inferences, elaborative inferences, and incorrect inferences. The total number of inferences generated indicated the richness of the mental model, and the type of inferences generated provided evidence for the nature and accuracy of the model. Two groups of students, a high-knowledge and a low-knowledge group, read three Spanish passages, each on a different topic and at a different level of syntactic complexity as defined by the number of embedded clauses per sentence. Results suggest that high-knowledge readers generate a richer and more accurate mental model than low-knowledge readers. In addition, the level of complexity and the reading topics indicate a complex pattern of influence on the generation of inferences.

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