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In this paper we present the results of an experiment that aims to verify the influence of the presentation format – hypertext or continuous – in reading comprehension. A group of students, who are familiar with computers, read viaha advertisement in one of the vianaa After reading the text the students answered questions that aimed to verify some reading skills: Both the text and the answers given by the students were analyzed using the Theory of Mental Spaces proposed by Fauconnier and Turner Although a quantitative analyses of the answers has pointed to an advantage of the hypertext format, qualitative analyses show that, regardless of the presentation format, the students could understand the advertisement, and were able to deal with different mental spaces in a very creative cocarelli efficient way.
Un grupo de estudiantes familiarizados con el uso del computador, leyeron un aviso publicitario en uno de los dos formatos: We describe in this paper one of the experiments which is part of a research that aims to verify the influence of the presentation format coscarslli hypertext or continuous – in reading comprehension.
Two versions of different texts were built: What we call continuous is known as linear or printed texts, in which the information is presented in a sequence, as it is usually done in books and other printed texts. The hypertext version is composed by one main text from which many links are connected.
These links lead to information about the text, and are presented as hyperlinks in the hypertext format, and as a linear text in the continuous format. Some studies Landow, ; Snyder, ; Xavier, ; Ramal, argue that cosdarelli hypertext is different from reading continuous texts, since the former is essentially different from the latter. In those studies, hypertext is usually taken coscaerlli a non- linear text that has no primary axis of organization, no center.
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Besides that, they argue that hypertexts require a more active reader, who will be an independent and autonomous constructor of meaning. The reader will also be the writer, since he can add information to the text 1. Contrary to what has been largely said about hypertexts, our hypothesis here is that there is, actually, no strong enough reason to believe that there are substantial differences in reading comprehension generated by these two different formats of text presentation, as long as the navigation tools of the digital text are familiar to the reader.
Hypertext was seen as a mechanism that would make a revolution on the acts of writing and reading Landow, ; Ramal,but there are, however, some studies that do not show this expected superiority of hypertexts in relation to linear texts Rouet et al.
Some researchers find those results difficult to explain, but they reinforce our belief that there is no such thing as linear reading, and that the physical differences among hypertexts and linear texts may not cause differences in text comprehension, since no text is linear and no reading is a linear process Coscarelli, One of the main differences between our beliefs and the ideas presented by researchers that argue for considering hypertext a revolution as far as writing and reading are concerned, such as Landow and others, is that they focus on navigation, on how the content is presented, and the user’s interaction with the text, while we focus our attention on text comprehension as a cognitive process.
That is why they consider the lack of linearity one of the main features of hypertext while we argue that every text is a hypertext since no text is linearand every reading process is essentially hypertextual because reading is not a linear process. Distinct approaches to the same subject – hypertext – lead to different results.
This explains part of the discrepant conclusions that research on hypertext has to face.
In this paper we present one of the experiments made in order to verify the influence of the presentation format in reading comprehension.
The text chosen for this experiment was an advertisement of Campari See Figure 1published in a Brazilian national magazine.
Carla Viana Coscarelli
What called our attention to this advertisement was how it deals with information from different domains that together compose another new domain. In order to understand this text the reader needs, among other things, to activate his knowledge about Campari and about the act of drinking, and needs, on the other hand, to notice the reference made in the text to the story of the Original Sin told in the Bible, in which Adam and Eve are convinced by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit – an apple.
Fauconnier defines mental spaces coscareli. We connect them and we also relate them to much more stable background knowledge and a lot of language. And grammar for that matter gives evidence of these hidden mental activities and connections to mental spaces. In the advertisement, one of the mental spaces Figure 2 brings elements of the Bible – the apple, Adam and Eve and the serpent – which evoke the idea of temptation and sin.
The other space is evoked by Campari and the consumers of this drink. A third space will be built by projections and carrla that can be made between these spaces. The apple and the drink are blended in this third space as an element that has features of caral of them, the same happening to the serpent and the consumer. There is also a generic space that brings structural and more general information about the idea of temptation.
This space allows us to perceive more easily the relationship between the other two domains: In the biblical space, we have the serpent and the apple, shown in the advertisement, and the characters Adam and Eve, who can be inferred, since they are very important elements in this context. Much more information may be inferred during the activation of this frame, one of which seeming to be the fact that the serpent convinced Adam and Eve that they should try the apple and, as a consequence of their action, they were expelled from Paradise.
This frame can also activate our knowledge of the Christian tradition of using this myth as a form of controlling sexuality, in which sex is considered a sin and where sinners will be punished.
In the mental space of drinking, we have Campari and the consumer. In this space there are two elements, as opposed to the generic frame of temptation and the biblical space where there are three elements; here, the tempter and the cosczrelli of desire are assembled in the same coscardlli, which is the drink.
In this domain, the effects of drinking Campari, i. No one is expelled from Paradise; on the contrary, they are included in it and in all the universe of pleasure that results from this inclusion. In comprehending this advertisement, these two domains are integrated in a third one in which features of the serpent, the apple and Campari are compressed in only one element.
In this third space Adam, Eve and the consumer are also blended forming another element that compresses features of these two figures. In this blend, many inferences can be produced. Here Campari is at the same time serpent and apple, i.
Meaning is built out of this creation and integration of mental spaces. In each of these spaces there is a cause-effect relation that needs to be detected by the reader. In the generic space the tempter ivana the ‘victim’ not to resist the desired object and this relation is projected into the other spaces.
In the biblical space, the serpent convinces Adam and Eve that they ivana try the apple resulting in their being expelled from Paradise coscardlli, and, in the drinking space, Campari dares the consumer to have this drink resulting in his admission into paradise.
Understood as metaphors, those spaces activate many other spaces and possible interpretations. Among the mental spaces created and articulated there are other relations that need to be detected, as the relations of identity, time and space.
We can find analogies and dissimilarities among coscarslli elements that compose the mental spaces activated by this advertisement There is analogy and identity between the apple and Campari, as well as between the serpent and Campari, and there is a correlation between Adam and Eve and the consumer, i.
On the other hand, the narrative and the characters of the biblical narrative need to be projected into the domain of drinking, which happens in a different time and space. It is not the time of the creation of the universe, but modern times in which the human viaana has already been created, expelled from Paradise, and has covered a long historical and evolutionary line. It is not the space of the Garden of Eden, but a bar, a restaurant, carka house, an apartment, as we conceive them nowadays.
The act of drinking Campari has the power to transform a modern place into paradise. The blending, or the space that results from the integration of the other spaces, is composed by the compression of these elements.
In this space there is no Adam and Eve, and no consumer, but there is one element that introduces features of both: There is not an apple or Campari, but a Campari-apple that gathers features of both, being not only a drink, but a drink that, like the apple, provokes the consumer’s desire for trying it.
The idea of paradise is also different. It is not necessarily the place where everything is perfect and where there is no sin, but a place where “sinning” is vlana and it is not a sin.
It is worth noticing that there is always another projection that is metaphoric, and that at least duplicates the possible relations among these spaces, and the interpretations that they can yield. A literal interpretation of “sinning”, for instance, would be eating the apple, but when considered metaphorically, could have a sexual connotation.
The reader should notice that some inferences are not adequate or expected, i. Among them we can mention the fact that Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise for trying the apple, and this can be considered a negative effect. A wide range of inferential possibilities are opened, and new mental spaces can be built, among which the sexual connotation, reinforced by the red color used in the words.
Another interesting element on this text is the pronoun “he” in the expressions “he 2 provokes” and “only he is like this”. This pronoun reinforces the creation and integration of the spaces we have mentioned, being part of them. In these expressions, the anaphoric pronoun “he”, besides referring to Campari in the drinking frame, also has correspondences in the biblical space, and is projected in the blended space.
In the expression “only he is like this”, the pronoun “he” seems to refer to Paradise or to the fruit in the biblical space, and to Campari in the drinking space. This seems to be an unusual case in which there is blending inside the blending space.
This is a very rich text as far as its interpretative possibilities are concerned, and this is one of the reasons why it was selected to be part of this research. We expected, with this experiment, to verify whether the presentation format of this text influences reading comprehension. In order to do that, some reading abilities were focused: The experiment, as well as some data and results will be briefly presented in the following sections.
The participants of this experiment were fourteen Brazilian undergraduate students majoring in Communication Studies, in their first semester at university Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. They were on average 21 years old, very familiar with computers, and they participated in this experiment as part of the activities in Portuguese Class.
Carla Viana Coscarelli (Author of Tecnologias para aprender)
They were asked to read the text in order to answer questions presented after the reading. The main materials of this experiment were two versions of the advertisement: In order to build coscadelli hypertextual version of the ad, links were inserted Appendix 1leading to information about specific elements of the text, such as the apple, the biblical episode of the Cosvarelli Sin, and about the drink Campari, coscaarelli instance.
For the continuous format, all and the same information presented by the links at the hypertextual format was transformed into a continuous and articulated continuous text below the image of the ad Appendix 2.
The students were asked to read the text on the computer in order to answer some questions about it afterwards.
Half of the students read the text in the hypertext format while the other half read it in the continuous format. They were asked to answer eight questions about the text after reading it. Except for the first question, they could always refer back to the text in order to read it again or check information. They read the text on the computer screen and typed their answers into specific pages in the computer.
The questions presented to the students after the text intended to test different reading abilities: This last ability, despite not being an ability strictly related to reading, was included as it could give us additional information about the students’ comprehension of the text. The answers given by the students for each question were quantified according to their adequacy. Were considered adequate the answers in which the students accomplished the ability tested by the question global comprehension of the text, information retrieving, inference production, and giving opinion.
On the other hand, were considered inadequate, answers that were too vague or that did not show that the student reach the aim of the question. According to this quantitative analysis, the hypertext format generated slightly better results than the continuous format of the advertisement in all the reading abilities tested Graphic 1.
Although systematic, this difference could not be considered statistically significant, since the number of students that took part in this specific experiment is considered small 3.
Nevertheless, the results seem to point to the possibility that reading hypertext may be different from reading continuous texts 4. These results contradict one of our presuppositions, which speculated that the continuous format would generate better results in the questions that measure global comprehension, since in this version, unlike what was done in the hypertext version, the text was not fragmented.
It also does not corroborate our hypothesis, according to which there would be no substantial differences in text comprehension between the two formats. We believe that a quantitative analysis does not provide us with detailed information about the meaning construction made by the readers, and that we can not conclude unequivocally that there is significant difference between reading in a hypertextual and in a continuous format without taking a deeper look at the data.
Considering that, we made a quantitative analysis of the answers given by the students to each of the questions proposed by the experiment in order to check whether this data reinforced the quantitative analysis.
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