Supporting reading comprehension in history education: the use and usefulness of a digital learning environment

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Reading comprehension is an essential skill for processing textual information and acquiring knowledge. Therefore, being able to read and comprehend informational texts is a crucial prerequisite for academic success in textual subjects such as history. Over the last decade, technology-enhanced learning environments have often been used to support students’ reading and learning processes, which has proven to be effective for reading comprehension in general and for history education in particular.

The research in this dissertation aimed at stimulating students’ cognition, metacognition and motivation with the help of a digital learning environment (DLE) in the context of the self-regulated reading of expository texts for the subject of history. Cognitive, metacognitive, and motivational scaffolds, called ‘hints’, were incorporated in the DLE to support students’ comprehension of expository texts. The DLE measured students’ reading comprehension performance, cognitive and behavioural engagement, and subject-specific reading skills such as identifying cause and effect. Additionally, students’ results were presented to teachers trough basic and extended data output in the DLE, and teachers were trained to translate these data into effective reading strategy instruction.

This dissertation analyses the practical implementation of the DLE and its effects on students’ text comprehension, self-regulation, motivation, engagement, historical content knowledge, and historical reasoning ability. It also describes the effects of using the DLE on teachers’ use of data and their instructional practice. By focusing on all these interrelated aspects, the results described provide a comprehensive overview of the use and usefulness of a DLE to support students’ reading comprehension in history education.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Strijbos, Jan-Willem, Supervisor
  • Opdenakker, Marie-Christine, Co-supervisor
  • Deunk, Marjolein, Co-supervisor
Award date29-Oct-2020
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs9789403425053
Electronic ISBNs9789403425016
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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