College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 11-22-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

David Albritton, PhD

Second Advisor

Jessica Choplin, PhD


The purpose of this thesis research is to explore how the difficulty of text impacts the ability to process subsequent text. The basic idea is that difficult text might deplete cognitive or attentional resources, creating difficulties for readers as they try to continue reading afterwards. A pilot study was conducted to gather preliminary data prior to the two final studies. High (easy to read) and low (difficult to read) readability passages were created and presented prior to a target passage. The results from the pilot study suggested that there may be differences in comprehension based on the readability and difficulty level of preceding text. Study one investigated how the length of the preceding passage impacted comprehension of subsequent text. A 2 readability (easy vs hard) x 2 length (short vs long) ANOVA failed to find any significant main effects or a significant interaction. Study two investigated whether differences in working memory capacity might make some people more susceptible to the effects of difficulty on comprehension on subsequent text. An ANCOVA failed to find a significant effect of readability on comprehension of the subsequent text after controlling for verbal working memory scores. Working memory scores were also not a significant predictor of comprehension scores.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons