UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES BEHAVIORAL TECHNOLOGY LABS
A theoretical orientation for studying different types of texts is presented. Schema theory is proposed as a useful metatheory within which to develop specific theories about reading. Both theories about the processes of reading and theories about the structure of what is read can be readily formulated in schema theory terms. It is proposed that readers make judgments about the types of texts that they read and that these judgments bring about the activation of expectations with respect to the structure and meaning of these texts. Three types of text were studied the simple short story instructions and definitional explanations, a type well characterized by popular science articles. Texts of the different types differ from each other in consistent ways on two dimensions 1 The text structures of definitions tend to be organized horizontally rather than vertically, as are the text structures of stories and instructions and 2 The semantic representations of stories are composed of specific concepts, in schema theory terms, while the semantic representations of instructions and definitions consist primarily of generic concepts. On the basis of these differences among texts, stories were predicted to be better remembered than instructions, which would be better remembered than definitions.