A positive association between interest and learning from texts has been well noted in the literature. However, the cause of the positive association between interest and learning from text is uncertain. The primary purpose of this dissertation was to examine a potential cause, inference generation, of the positive association between interest and learning from texts. Sixty undergraduate students participated in Experiment 1 by reading two scientific texts and writing recalls and answers to comprehension questions. Topic interest and text-based interest were measured using self-reports. The results indicated that topic interest and text-based interest were indeed positively associated with learning from texts. In Experiment 2, sixty-nine undergraduate students participated by completing the same measures as the participants in Experiment 1, with the inclusion of the think-aloud task while reading. The results from Experiment 2 indicated that topic and text-based interest were both found to be positively associated with inference generation. Subsequent analyses indicated that inference generation explained (as a mediator) the positive association between both topic and text-based interest and accurate answers to comprehension questions. In contrast, inference generation was statistically independent from the positive association between topic interest and recall. Inference generation affected the strength of (as a moderator) the positive association between text-based interest and recall. The findings from both experiments are discussed in the context of interest and text comprehension theories, specifically in regards to standards of coherence.
The secondary purpose of this dissertation was to determine the usefulness of Wii Fit boards as a cost-effective means of incorporating gross body movements as an indirect measure of interest. Gross body movement data from forty-two of the participants in Experiment 1 was measured while the participants read the experimental texts. The findings indicated that interest and learning from text were negatively associated with both leaning back and shifting in one's seat. These findings are discussed in the context of embodied theories of cognition.