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Subject: AEJ 95 BleskeG CTM Effect of headlines
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 16 Feb 1996 21:05:46 EST
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SCHEMATIC FRAMES AND READER LEARNING:
THE EFFECT OF HEADLINES
Glen L. Bleske
California State University, Chico
Department of Journalism, School of Communication
Chico, CA 95928-0600
(916) 898-4770
[log in to unmask]
 
 
 
Manuscript submitted for presentation to the annual meeting
 of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication,
Communication Theory & Methodology Division,
April 1995
 
 ABSTRACT
SCHEMATIC FRAMES AND READER LEARNING:
THE EFFECT OF HEADLINES
 
Newspaper headlines are conceptualized as being pre-texts that help readers
 process a news story.  Theory suggests that headlines work by cueing
 
       readers who use the information to organize material in the news story
and
 
          integrate the material into their long-term memories. Results from a
 
      controlled experiment using student subjects supported the main
hypothesis:
 headlines helped readers recall information from a series of news stories.
  Analysis of reader protocols provided evidence that headlines helped re
 
          aders organize information and integrate it with prior information in
their
 memories.
 
SCHEMATIC FRAMES AND READER LEARNING:
THE EFFECT OF HEADLINES
        Although numerous studies have profiled newspaper readers and their uses
 
          of newspapers (Stone, 1987), fewer studies have looked at how readers
 
       cognitively respond to various elements of the news package (Bell, 1991).
 
          One part of the newspaper package that has been under-researched is
the
 
         effect of headlines on readers' processing of the news (Hilliard,
1991).
        Typically, discussions of headlines conceptualize them as serving basic
 
          functions of allowing the reader to easily scan a page for news and
 
     attracting the reader to a story (Baskette, Sissor, & Brooks, 1986).  The
 
          purpose of this present study is to conceptualize news headlines in a
 
       different way: as texts that prepare readers for processing information
in
 
          the story, pre-texts that may help the reader understand the news. The
 
        principal question for this study looks at how headlines affect reader
 
        processing of news stories.
        In light of recent attempts by the industry to develop an electronic
 
       newspaper (Christopher, 1994; Morton, 1993), headlines may be even more
 
         important than they are for a traditional newspaper.  To make it easier
for
 readers to enter the newspaper, section fronts of the electronic newspaper
 are being designed so that they feature headlines and summary paragraphs
 
          (Christopher, 1994).  Under this design, a reader would then have an
option
 to select the complete story.  Headlines will act as electronic gates for
 
          the reader of the future, and this study tries to explain how those
gates
 
          will work.
LITERATURE REVIEW
         The consensus of reading research is that any device that prepares
 
      readers for new material will increase the probability that the readers
 
         will be able to later produce the new information (Kulhavy, Schwartz, &
 
         Peterson, 1986). The question is untested and open, however, whether
 
      headlines function as prereadings that would prepare the typical newspaper
 
          reader and affect comprehension.
        For this study, headlines are conceptualized as being a form of
 
  pre-reading, or an advance organizer (AO).  Ausubel (1960) conceptualized
 
          AOs as pre-reading events that appear to help readers use background
 
      information they already hold.  These organizers bridge the gap between
 
         what the reader already knows and what the reader needs to know.
 
   Information in the AO becomes an anchoring post or scaffolding for ideas
 
          that will come later (Ausubel, 1963). A series of studies by Mayer
(1989,
 
          1987, 1984, 1983, 1980, 1979) support Ausubel's theory and expand the
 
       concept of advance organizers to concrete material such as graphic
devices.
 It may be possible that, besides attracting reader attention to stories,
 
          headlines may be bridges, text organizers that help readers process
the
 
         news.
        Research on Headlines.  Research on the effects of newspaper headlines has
 been mixed, and there have been only a few studies. In 1953, Tannebaum
 
         complained that almost no research had investigated the psychological
 
       effects of headlines. In 1963, other researchers (MacLean, & Kao) noted
 
         that although the effects of page design and headline typeface had been
 
         subjects of extensive research, the effects of headline content on
 
    newspaper readers had undergone little analysis. In 1991, Hilliard found
 
          that little had changed since 1963: the psychological effects of
newspaper
 
          headlines remained an unknown factor.
        Yet, the overall evidence suggests that headlines do play an important
 
         role in readers' information processing.  For example, headlines can
affect
 attitudes.  Headlines that emphasized "bad war news" during World War II
 
          were more effective in instigating a positive attitude toward
participation
 in the war effort (Allport & Lepkin, 1943) than were headlines with
 
      positive news.   One early study (Deutschmann, 1956) found that headlines
 
          serve as cues for readers as they seek interesting stories. Headlines
att
 
          ract attention or guide selection, but they also influence decoding of
the
 
          message, according to Tannebaum (1955), who reported in 1953 that the
 
       positive or negative slant of headlines affected how readers judged the
 
         guilt or innocence of an accused criminal in a news story.
        In a similar experiment measuring how readers respond to headlines that
 
          contain innuendo about a person, a sociology study (Wegner, Wenzlaff,
 
       Kerker, & Beattie, 1981) found that subjects rated the protagonist more
 
         positively when the headline was neutral, while they rated the person
in a
 
          negative way when the headline contained innuendo or incrimination.
But a
 
          study by Leventhal and Gray (1991) found that innuendos in headlines
had no
 effect on memory or attitudes toward a crime victim, the accused, or the
 
          criminal's sentencing. But, it appears that the sensational story
 
   topics--rape and abuse--may have skewed the memory tests.
        Contrary to Leventhal and Gray (1991), Pasternack (1987) found that
 
        libelous statements in a headline and story led people to judge a man
more
 
          likely to be a thief.  In comparing the effects of libel in the story
or in
 the headline, Pasternack found that the libelous headline showed a greater
 effect in increasing judgments of guilt.  In discussing his results,
 
       Pasternack (1987) made an important point:  In the real world, headlines
 
          may be even more important than text because readers often will look
only
 
          at a headline, skipping the story or skimming it.  Such superficial
 
     attention to the headline is likely to increase the effect of the headline.
        In investigating the negative effects of ethnic references in crime
 
      reporting, Winkel (1990) found evidence that after reading a series of 40
 
          headlines, subjects were more likely to overestimate the number of
crimes
 
          committed by an ethnic group other than the one to which the subject
 
      belonged.  Winkel (1990) suggested that headline readers used information
 
          in headlines to make generalizations about behavior of ethnic group
 
     members, forming stereotypical judgments about a group of people based on
 
          the negative characteristic emphasized in the headline.
        Headlines are so powerful that the topic of the summary has a  greater
 
         affect than the slant in forming readers' attitudes toward a candidate
 
        (Geer, & Kahn, 1993).  Geer and Kahn suggested that this "surprising"
 
       amount of influence may be due to readers' attitudes being primed by
 
      certain topics.  Headlines, they said, may guide readers' choosing certain
 
          information to encode. Thus, headlines affect what people learn.
        Overall, research on newspaper headlines supports the idea that headlines
 
          have an effect on readers.  Winship and Allport (1943) appeared to be
right
 when they argued that newspaper headlines create images in the minds of
 
          readers and these images have important psychological effects on
readers.
        Process of Reading a Headline.   To study how readers process headlines,
 
          Perfetti, Beverly, Bell, Rodgers, and Faux (1987) completed six
experiments
 to test whether textual space constraints imposed on headlines affected
 
          the comprehension process.  The researchers noted that the Spartan
approach
 to headline content--the omission of verbs and articles in
          headlines--created syntax that challenged a reader to interpret the
 
     meaning.  They hypothesized that instead of parsing headlines as if a
 
       headline were a sentence, a reader would heavily favor problem-solving
 
        techniques while processing a headline.
        By using a series of ambiguous headlines, the researchers (Perfetti et
 
         al., 1987) found that subjects parsed headlines in the same way that
they
 
          comprehend other written language.  Overall, headline comprehension
was
 
         very difficult, and yet readers could not overcome their reading habits
to
 
          use shortcuts or other knowledge even when those other strategies
would
 
         have been an advantage.  Ambiguous headlines took longer to read not
 
      because there were multiple meanings to choose from but because it took
 
         longer to achieve any meaning.  Readers looked at syntactic structure
first
 rather than semantic plausibility.
        In one of their experiments (Perfetti et al, 1987), the researchers found
 
          that time to read a sentence was longer when preceded by an ambiguous
 
       headline than an unambiguous headline.  The researchers suggested that a
 
          reprocessing effect--readers had to reread the sentence because it did
not
 
          meet the expectations influenced by the headline--accounts for the
longer
 
          processing time.  This finding suggests that headlines can affect the
 
       processing time for reading a news story, and that there is a strong link
b
 
          etween a headline and the material that follows.
        Schematic Framing.  Underlying the theoretical work of Mayer and Ausubel
 
          in promoting advance organizers as learning devices is the need to
explain
 
          how organizers work.  Ausubel (1963) tied his ideas of cognitive
functions
 
          to Bartlett's ideas (1932) that "schema," a mental frame based on
prior
 
         knowledge, was an organizing structure.  Geer and  Kahn (1993), too,
use
 
          the broad idea of schema theory to explain the priming result that
they
 
         found
         The positive effects of various text features on reader comprehension
 
         have been explained through schema theory (e.g., Beck et al, 1991).
Dole,
 
          Valencia, Greer, and Wardrop (1991, p. 144) have declared that the
effect
 
          of schema theory on understanding reading comprehension "has been
nothing
 
          short of revolutionary."  Schema, according to various scholars,
suggests
 
          that what a reader stores in memory is determined by a type of
encoding
 
         process that is similar to a knowledge frame (Alba & Hasher, 1983).
This
 
          frame selects or even alters a person's experience so that the
          representation of the experience that is stored makes sense and is
 
    consistent with other experiences.  Schema activates a reader's prior
 
       knowledge, which aids interpretation of new information (Alba & Hasher,
 
         1983).  Generally, schema refers to the general knowledge that a person
 
         holds about a subject matter, event, or experience.  In general, schema
 
         theories hypothesize that prior knowledge that is related to new
 
  experiences helps improve acquisition, retention, and retrieval of new
 
        information (Alba & Hasher, 1983).
        Biocca (1991) has proposed a theory of schematic frames for the processing
 of television, based on the idea that viewers construct mental models of
 
          information.  To understand memory and processing, Biocca outlined a
 
      framework for studying viewers' representations of media messages.
 
     Although he applied his work directly to television commercials for
 
     political candidates, the idea of semantic frames should apply to the
 
       mental models readers construct as they engage a text.
        A reader forms a mental model of the meaning of a news story based on the
 
          model presented by the editor who wrote the headline, on the model
created
 
          by the writer of the story, on the abilities and knowledge of the
reader,
 
          and on the mental states of the reader as the reading goes on.  While
the
 
          words on the page may be static and fixed, the meaning in the mind of
the
 
          reader constantly changes (Biocca, 1991).
        Mental models are useful in thinking about the ways that readers build
 
         models of language (McNamara, Miller, & Bransford, 1991).  According to
 
         theories (Johnson-Laird, 1983, van Dijk & Kintsch, 1983), readers
process
 
          text at least two ways: at the propositional level (propositions
contain at
 least one noun and predicate; they are the smallest unit of knowledge that
 can stand as a separate assertion); and by constructing mental models that
 are "analogous in structure to the events, situations, or layouts de
 
      scribed in the text" (McNamara et al., 1991, p. 493).  Mental models do
not
 retain verbatim text structures, but they can help recall of events,
 
       relevant places, prominent characters, or objects associated with main
 
        characters (McNamara et al., 1991).
        Biocca's approach was to develop a theoretical model that specifies "the
 
          high-level semantic `programs' that appear to be operative in the
 
   processing" of the media message (Biocca, 1991, p.41).  He proposed that a
 
          selection of cognitive procedures, or schematic frames, were active in
 
        generating the mental models.  These frames access a person's schemata.
 
          "They are frames because each extracts and arranges specific
information
 
          from the semantic frames of the message.  Schematic frames are
cognitive
 
          processes that organize application of the viewer's schemata to the
 
     semantic frames (codes) of the . . . message" (Biocca, 1991, p. 41).
        The frames, which represent psychological operations, were based on
 
      research and theory associated with psycholinguistics, discourse
 
  processing, and persuasion research (Biocca, 1991).  Some of their
 
    properties are that the various frames work at the same time while working
 
          out the meaning from the words.  What happens in one frame may
influence
 
          what happens in another frame.  Biocca (1991, p. 42) called working
out
 
         meaning the act of "calculating semantic values from the codes."  The
 
       semantic values in the various frames change repeatedly as a message is
 
         processed.  The frames proposed (Biocca, 1991) included:  1)
Discoursive
 
          frames,  2) "Possible world" frames,  3) Actant or agent frames,  4)
Point
 
          of view frames, 5) Narrative frames,  6) Ideological frames,  and 7)
 
      Self-schematic frames.
        After reading a headline, a person should have filled in these various
 
         frames, which begin to alter and change as the reader engages a text.
 
        These frames appear to be similar to the mental structures that Ausubel
 
         (1963) described as influencing meaningful learning.  Despite the
numerous
 
          studies of advance organizers, little effort has been made to describe
the
 
          structures created by AOs.  Biocca's theory (1991) provides a way for
 
       understanding the function of pretext.  AOs, by providing a schematic
frame
 for a text, may help the reader make inferences about situations, people,
 
          and objects that appear in a text.
THEORY
        This present study concerns itself with one basic theoretical question:
 
          How do pretext messages--in this case, headlines--interact with a text
to
 
          increase understanding?
        Numerous studies show that students learn more from text plus
          illustrations than from text alone (Mayer, 1989).  In developing a
theory
 
          for headlines, it is useful to note that headlines are similar to
 
   illustrations.  In fact, Waller (1979) developed the concept of "access
 
         structures" to describe the spatial and typographic cues that helped
 
      readers access and read text.  Those structures include illustrations,
 
        headlines, summaries, boxed materials, and even different typographic
 
       settings.  Headlines appear to be a specific case of a general example of
 
          message processing.
        Integration of Theories.  The goal of this present study is to apply
 
       Ausubel's (1963) theory of advance organizers to newspaper headlines.  If
 
          headlines are AOs, they should produce evidence of meaningful
learning.
 
          Ausubel (1963) stated that meaningful learning occurs when new ideas
are
 
          integrated with existing cognitive structures.  Advance organizers
help
 
         bring about that integration, according to Ausubel (1963).  An AO
brings to
 the surface those concepts already held in a reader's mind, familiar
 
       concepts that will help the reader understand the new material to be read
 
          (Ausubel, 1963).  If the reader's cognitive structure does not hold
the
 
         concepts that are relevant to learning the new material, the AO
provides
 
          the needed concepts.  The AO is an anchor, a scaffold, a framework for
the
 
          reader.  Thus, a headline, if it is an AO, introduces material to be
 
      learned, and it prepares the reader for understanding the text that will
 
          follow.
        Modeling the theory.  Figure 1 illustrates the various conditions that
 
         influence the effectiveness of headlines in helping a reader to learn
from
 
          a news story.  Information from the headline organizes the material
from
 
          the text in working memory and integrates the new material with prior
 
       knowledge held in long-term memory.  This process of organization and
 
       integration occurs repeatedly and often along with repeated connections
 
         with long-term memory, where a reader's schematic frame shifts and
changes
 
          as the reader comprehends the text (Mayer, 1989).
-------------------------------
Insert Figure 1 about here
-------------------------------
        The frames become embedded in other frames or include other frames as new
 
          material is processed.  Successful organization and integration leads
to
 
          increased learning because the new material is accessible and
memorable for
 the reader (Mayer, 1989).  Of course, the effects of the headlines and
 
         text also are mediated by the characteristics and states of the reader.
        A headline by virtue of its typographic prominence and placement above a
 
          story provides strong cues for cognitive processes and monitors
processes
 
          of reading and comprehension (van Dijk, 1986).  An effective headline
 
       provides a way of organizing the concepts that are being learned.
 
    Organization occurs in short-term memory, where material is made available
 
          from the senses to be integrated with prior knowledge held in
long-term
 
         memory.  Without organization of the new material, the reader's
learning is
 haphazard and inefficient (Mayer, 1989).  The effective headline helps the
 reader integrate concepts from the news story.  This implies that a
 
      schematic model formed after reading the headline is based on the
 
   connections between the information in short-term memory and prior
 
    knowledge.  The assumption is that the headline provides the reader with
 
          material for building a schematic model that is relevant to the text.
        Headlines, even when they are written in Spartan language, have clear
 
        effects on newspaper readers.  They can affect text organization and
 
      integration.  By affecting mental processes, they can influence learning,
 
          attitudes, and inferences such as judgments of guilt.  Although they
may
 
          not meet the classical definition of an advance organizer (Ausubel,
1978,
 
          1963), headlines may provide a frame that aids readers.
        The present study uses repeated measures and random assignment to control
 
          for environmental and individual differences and to focus on the
effects of
 headlines.  Further, the design will call for control of various message
 
          variables known to influence learning--length, topic, order--and for
 
      control of prior knowledge that individuals bring to the experiments.
 
        Theory leads to the following hypotheses:
 
H) Subjects will recall significantly more information from a news
 
         story with a headline than from one without a headline.
        If newspaper headlines function as advance organizers, they should produce
 evidence of meaningful learning.  Ausubel (1963) states that meaningful
 
          learning occurs when new ideas are integrated with existing cognitive
 
       structures.  Such integration can be measured by comparing aided recall
 
         scores for subjects who receive text preceded by a headline and
material
 
          without a headline.
        It would be useful to investigate the semantic frames of readers under two
 conditions: text with a headline and a text without a headline.  According
 to Biocca's theory (1991) of semantic framing, a reader's semantic frame
 
          will change as the reader fills in details from the text.  If readers
have
 
          a different starting point (headline vs. no headline), the details in
the
 
          various frames should be different, with the headline condition
exhibiting
 
          a more highly integrated schematic frame.
        Schema theory in general implies that schemata help readers make
 
   inferences, both correct and wrong, about the text they are reading.  The
 
          expectation of the present study is that reader protocols would reveal
that
 headlines affect the kinds of information that people will process and
 
         store in their memories. This leads to a research question:
 
R) Will  headlines make a difference in the schematic frames of subjects?
        If headlines make information processing easier for the reader, it should
 
          be measurable by comparing the protocols of  subjects who receive
headlines
 and those who do not read headlines before engaging a text.
METHODS
        The aim of the following experiment was a simple one: to test whether a
 
          headline helped readers process a news story.  In other words, can
 
    headlines work as advance organizers?  The experiment looked at how
 
     headlines affect readers' memory of a news story.  In the main part of the
 
          experiment, subjects read news stories with and without headlines
while
 
         their reading times were recorded and used as the dependent variable.
        The second part of this study  was exploratory and used reader-generated
 
          protocols to analyze differences in the readers' memories according to
 
        whether they read a story with a headline or one without a headline.
Experiment
        Subjects and sampling.  The subjects for this experiment were 36 undergraduate
students
 
            enrolled in the School of Journalism at a major state university.
The subjects were
 
         volunteers who received extra credit in one of their journalism classes
for participating
 
            in a volunteer subject pool.  The average age of subjects was 20.2
years, 80% were female,
 and 94% were white.  There was one African-American and one Native American in
the
 
        sample.
        Materials.  An effort was made to make the news stories and headlines
consistent with the
 real world of newspapers.  Materials for this experiment were a stimuli package
of news
 
            stories and headlines along with a test questionnaire.
        Four stimuli news stories were selected from the local news sections of the
Portland
 
          Oregonian, a well-known newspaper of quality published on the Pacific
Coast (see
 
     Appendix).  Multiple stories were chosen to limit the possibility that some
idiosyncrasy
 
            of one story might influence the results.  Further, exposure to
multiple stories mimics
 
            the natural reading environment.  People tend to read more than one
news story at a
 
        sitting.  It was hoped that multiple stories would make the laboratory
environment less
 
            artificial.
        The selection of the stimuli stories was not random.  The stories were
published during
 
            the first two weeks of October 1992, which was chosen because of the
upcoming election.
 
            About 40 stories were selected from this time period based on their
content.  The main
 
           attributes were that the story have information that was unfamiliar
to students in our
 
           geographical area, that the stories have information that was
learnable (such as election
 
            stories), and that the stories be of adequate length, about 200-300
words.
        Story topics were chosen that focused on issues of low involvement that were
unique to
 
            Oregon.  This geographic limitation was designed as a control for
the prior knowledge that
 a typical college student would have about the information that would be tested
in the
 
            memory questions.  Government action and elections were considered
desirable stories for
 
            the experiment because their content is strongly associated with the
type of information
 
            provided by newspapers that is suitable for reader learning.  On the
other hand, feature
 
            stories, editorials, and other types of entertainment content (such
as sports) were
 
        considered to be beyond the scope of this study.
        The 40 stories were reduced to eight stories.  The main criterion for reduction
was based
 on the qualitative judgment of the experimenter, who decided whether a story
could
 
        generate an adequate number of meaningful questions for the memory test
and how well the
 
            story fit into a pattern of news representation.  From this list of
eight, four were
 
         randomly selected for this experiment: the water story, the Hispanic
story, the sign
 
         story, and the fishing story.
        Each of the four stories had two treatments: with and without a headline, for a
total of
 
            eight stimuli.  The headlines were written in a style typical of
modern newspapers: a
 
          two-line main head along with a two-line subhead in smaller type (see
Appendix).  Three
 
            experts judged that the stories and headlines represented typical
news stories.  Each
 
          judge received the four stories plus 16 other distracter stories and
judged them on a
 
          scale of 0-10, with 10 signifying that the story represented the kind
of story that is
 
           typically printed in a newspaper.  Each scored a perfect 10, while
some of the distracter
 
            stories scored a 0.
        The news stories were printed on 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper to look as if they were
 
     photocopies of real news stories.  They included bylines, datelines, and
multiple legs of
 
            10-point type.  The headlines were printed on separate sheets of 8
1/2 by 11-inch paper.
 
            The main head was 30-
point type and the subhead was 16-point (see Appendix).
        As suggested by previous experiments, headlines are unlikely to have effects on
readers
 
            under four conditions: 1) if the subjects have previous knowledge or
have formed opinions
 
            about the subject (Tannebaum, 1953); 2) if the topic of the news
story is highly involving
 or more likely to increase the reader's attention (Mayer, 1989); 3) if the
material is
 
            not potentially meaningful (Mayer, 1989); and 4) if the reader does
not need help in
 
         organizing the material (Mayer, 1989).  The selection of news stories
was designed to
 
          control for the first three of these possible conditions.
A pre-test of the stories included a focus group session with seven students who
confirmed
 that the stories were unknown to them, that the stories were boring (low
involvement),
 
            and that the stories contained material that they believed was worth
learning.
         A series of four packets--each containing the four news stories, half with and
half
 
          without headlines--were prepared so that each subject read a total of
four messages, two
 
            from each condition (with or without a headline).  Story order in
the packets was based on
 Wagenaar's (1969) method for constructing N X N "digram balanced" Latin
Squares.  (See
 
            Table 4.1).  The packets were designed as a between-subject
manipulation.  This
 
    control-manipulation was designed to balance potential topic, order, and
repetition
 
        effects, which were tested in a post-hoc analysis.
------------------------------
Insert Table 1 about here
-------------------------------
        General directions for the experiment informed subjects that they would read a
series of
 
            news stories, and that after reading the news stories they would be
asked about what they
 
            read.  The directions emphasized that they should read the news
stories carefully, but at
 
            a normal speed.
        Measurement.  A questionnaire, also on 8 1/2 by 11-inch sheets of paper,
included 20
 
          multiple-choice questions. (five for each story).  The last page asked
subjects about
 
          basic demographic data: age, gender, race (see Appendix B).
        A series of 32 questions (eight per story) were written.  Each question focused
on
 
        important information central to the stories, which was confirmed
through a pre-test of
 
            the questionnaire.  There was one correct answer for each question:
To eliminate amb
 
        iguity, the answer was an exact or nearly exact passage from the text.
Three plausible
 
            alternatives--both semantically and structurally different from the
correct answer--were
 
            constructed for each question.  A fourth alternative (to discourage
guessing) was "I am
 
            not sure or I do not remember."
        The questions and stimuli were pretested by a group of seven subjects, all from
the
 
         volunteer subject pool.  Questions that were answered correctly or
wrongly by more than
 
            five people were discarded or rewritten as needed to reach the goal
of 20 questions for
 
            the experiment.
        The 20 chosen questions were carefully constructed to capture those ideas that
were
 
         related to the major concepts of the stories.  Mayer (1989, pp. 48-49)
notes that valid
 
            major dependent variables in experiments designed to measure
learning "must involve recall
 of conceptual information, retention of material in verbatim format, and/or
creative
 
          problem-solving transfer performance rather than the more traditional
measures of overall
 
            amount recalled and/or overall performance on comprehension tests."
        To assure that the 20 questions did reflect important concepts in the stories,
five
 
         judges, taken from the volunteer subject pool, read each of the four
stories and then
 
          rated the 20 questions along with 12 additional questions for their
importance to the
 
          story.  A bi-polar 7-point scale, (Not Important Idea vs. Important
Idea) was used.  None
 
            of the 12 additional question was rated as more important than the
20 used in this
 
       experiment.  The lowest score among the questions used was 3.75, slightly
below the middle
 score of 4, while the highest score for the questions not chosen was 3.25.
        Another pre-test was used to assure the validity of the questionnaire.  A group
of three
 
            judges, all professional journalists, read each of the headlines and
the questionnaire to
 
            determine whether any headline provided an  answer to any of the
questions.  The judges
 
            determined that none of the headlines provided information that
helped answer the
 
      questionnaire, except for one, which was rewritten.  The judges also noted
that they had
 
            no prior knowledge that helped them to answer the questions.
        Each subject answered all 20 questions. The reliability score for 20 questions
was Alpha
 
            = .68.
        Procedure.  Each subject received four news stories to read.  Subjects were
randomly
 
          assigned to one of the four stimuli packets. Instructions emphasized
that the subjects
 
           were to read the stories as if they were carefully reading a
newspaper.  Subjects were
 
           told that after reading the stories they would be asked some
questions about what they
 
           remembered about the stories.
        Subjects also were told that they had a 30-minute time limit in reading the
stories (this
 time limit was determined by the pretest).  A time limit was necessary because
studies
 
            have shown that by slowing reading speed, comprehension increases
(Kintsch & Vipond,
 
         1979).  The goal was to have the subjects read carefully, but at a
normal rate of speed.
        After reading the four stories, the subjects returned their stimuli packets to
the
 
        experimenter.  The average reading time was about 16 minutes.  Subjects
were then given a
 
            questionnaire (Appendix B) to complete, and the order of questions
was the same as the
 
           story order in the stimuli packet.  The questionnaires were marked so
that the
 
   experimenter knew which of the four stimuli packets the subject received, but
subjects
 
           remained anonymous.
     Data analysis.  The dependent variable, Memory, was based on the number of
correct
 
            answers to the multiple- choice answers.  Each subject contributed a
score from 0 to 10
 
            for each condition.  A paired t-test was used to determine if the
subjects remembered
 
          significantly more key ideas from a news story with a headline as
opposed to a story
 
         without a headline.  The conventional significance level of .05 was
used.
        Main analysis.  The mean score for the headline condition was 5.472 with a
 standard deviation of 1.934.  The mean score for the no-headline condition
 was 4.889 with a standard deviation of 1.997.  The paired t-test, with a
 
          difference in the means of .5833 and a standard deviation of 1.811 and
 
        standard error of .302, indicated that the t-value was 1.93 with 35
degrees
 of freedom.  The one-tailed probability was .03.
        Order effects.  The experiment was designed to allow a post-hoc analysis
 
          of effects that might be due to story order and the repetition of the
 
       stimulus condition (headline or no headline). The analysis indicated no
 
         evidence of a systematic bias.
        Discussion.  The null hypothesis is rejected and Hypothesis 1 is
 
   supported: Headlines did help readers recall significantly more information
 from news stories.  Headlines appeared to help readers organize
 
  information.  Headlines did more than the traditional functions (Baskette
 
          et al., 1986) of attracting attention, summarizing the story, helping
index
 the news page, depicting the mood of the story, depicting the tone of the
 
          newspaper, and providing typeface relief.  Headlines helped readers
learn
 
          and remember information from the news story.
        Materials for protocol analysis.  After a rest and particapting in  a
 
        distracter task, the subjects read two more stories.  The materials for
 
         this part of the experiment--instructions, headlines, news stories, and
 
         questions--were presented on computer screens of IBM-PCs and generated
by
 
          Micro Experimental Laboratory (MEL) software.  The stimuli included
the
 
         first three paragraphs from two news stories, an election story and a
 
       hospital story, along with a headline for each story (See Appendix).  The
 
          stories, a campaign story and a hospital story, were written by the
 
     experimenter, who based them on actual news stories from a regional
 
     newspaper.
        Each subject read the two stories, one with a headline and the other
 
       without. There were four stimuli created: Story 1 with headline; Story 1
 
          without headline; Story 2 with headline; Story 2 without headline.
Four
 
          treatment groups, with two stories each, were created so that story
order
 
          and condition were counterbalanced.
        After the second story, an open-ended question appeared on the screen.
 
          Subjects were given a sheet of paper to record their answer to the
 
    question, which asked them to retell the story in their own words.  The
 
         goal of asking the open-ended question was to require the subjects to
 
       report their memory of the SECOND story they read.  For half the
subjects,
 
          this story would be preceded by a headline, for the other half, there
would
 be no headline.
        Instructions for the experiment told subjects that they would have to
 
        answer some questions about the stories they read.  Before each headline
 
          appeared on the screen, subjects were asked to carefully read the
headline.
 After the headline, instructions told subjects that they would read a news
 story, one paragraph at a time.
        Equipment.  IBM-PC computers were used along with MEL software.  The
 
       software is well-known in psychology and is often used in experiments.
        Measurement.   The headline or no headline treatment was the independent
 
          variable of this experiment.  Two judges, blind to the treatment
 
  conditions, analyzed the content of subjects' protocols.  There were nine
 
          protocols (one from each subject) available for each of the four
stories,
 
          or 18 protocols for each of the treatments (with headline or without
 
      headline).  Contents of the protocols were analyzed by proposition (van
 
         Dijk, & Kintsch, 1983; Kintsch, & Vipond, 1979):  Propositions contain
at
 
          least one noun and predicate; they are the smallest unit of knowledge
that
 
          can stand as a separate assertion.  The judges then used a scale
developed
 
          by Cooke (1994), and modified for this experiment, for categorizing
the
 
         propositions as schematic frames.  Overall, in coding, the judges
agreed on
 86% of the propositions.  The disagreements by the judges were resolved
 
          through consensus.
        Protocol analysis.  An analysis of the protocols also was conducted.  The
 
          protocols had been expected to provide information about the
differences in
 mental models of readers who read a headline before writing the protocol
 
          and those readers who did not have a headline.  Coding of the
protocols was
 based on schematic frame theory (Biocca 1991) using a system proposed in
 
          Cooke (1994).
        A preliminary analysis of the protocols allowed for the creation of a
 
        coding sheet that condensed the categories for schematic frames to the
 
        following:
        * Possible World frame, where readers assign characters or actions to some
 possible world (e.g., this story took place in Portland).
        * Discoursive frame, where readers determine that a story is about a topic
 (e.g., the story is about feuds) or genre (e.g., this story is a tragedy).
        *  Agent frames, where readers state the role of agents, describe them in
 
          some way, discuss their internal states, or state the motivations or
goals
 
          of the agents.  Agents in this case can be institutions and objects as
well
 as people.
        *  Point of view frames, where the reader uses a statement that
 
  acknowledges that the reader is viewing the world through some agent or
 
         other point of view.  This category was eliminated from the judges'
coding
 
          sheets because of the limited nature of the protocols, which contained
no
 
          statements reflecting a point of view other than as a third-person
voyeur:
 
          someone who appears to be not really involved with the action.
        * Narrative frames, where the viewer references either an "event" (a
 
       single action that has occurred within the story) or an episode (the
causal
 relation among a series of events or the consequence of an event).
        * Ideological frames and Self-schematic frames were eliminated from this
 
          analysis because there were no examples of these type of frames in the
 
        protocols.
        Thus, coding of the protocols was limited to the following frames:
 
     Possible World Spatial, Possible World Character, Discoursive Topic,
 
      Discoursive Genre, Agent Role, Agent Description, Agent Motivation, Agent
 
          Internal State,    Narrative Event, Narrative Episode.  Further, each
of
 
          the frames was given one of the following subcodes that described the
 
       dynamics of the organization of the message within the frame (Cooke,
1994).
  These included: Non-judgmental, which was the default coding and the most
 likely coding for a proposition that simply related a fact direct from the
 text; Confused, which was the subcode for mistakes by the reader;
 
    Value-laden, in which the comment reflected some negative or positive
 
       judgment; and Inferred, which described those comments that were not
 
      explicit in the text.
         Post-hoc analysis of protocols.  Coding of the protocols led to the
 
       classification of 602 propositions: 312 for the headline condition, 290
for
 the non-headline condition.  About 80% of the propositions mimic the text
 
          of the original stories.  Of interest in this analysis are the 114 p
 
     ropositions (about 19%) that represent the schema-based inferences of the
 
          subjects.
        In this section of the analysis, numbers mean less than the qualitative
 
          insights.  A clear pattern emerges from the coding: subjects who
received
 
          no headline provided protocols that recalled the stories in ways
different
 
          from subjects who read a headlined story.  The headlines clearly
affected
 
          the mental models formed by the readers.
        These differences are seen in the following examples.  They are taken
 from two of the 18 subjects who read the story about political
 
      candidates.  One reader had no headline.  The text of this reader's
 
          protocol follows:
 
        Republican candidate (male) Meeker, 67, supports free trade with
 
             Mexico. He says it will create new jobs for the region. When asked
by
 
               a group of Hispanics (Hispanics for Unity) if he would remember
them
 
               once he was elected, he said he would consider hiring a Spanish
 
           speaker as a member of his staff.
        (Female) Democratic candidate Kelley, 35, is opposed to free trade
 
               with Mexico because it would cause American jobs to be lost, and
labor
 unions would suffer. She said she hopes labor will speak up at
 
           election time as it usually does.
 
        This protocol was the most complete of any, recalling and listing 27 facts
 of the 44 in the story (average recall was 12 facts).  This organization
 
          was typical for the nine subjects who read a non-headlined version of
the
 
          political story.  Five subjects used this organization: listing all
the
 
         aspects of one candidate and then all the aspects of the other
candidate.
 
          The other four subjects in the non-headline condition borrowed the
 
    organization of the story, which directly contrasted the candidates by list
 
          ing one candidate and then the other and then back to the first and
 
     finishing with the second.
        The following text is the protocol of a reader who had a headline on the
 
          story:
 
        It's election time and the Republicans and Democrats are sharing
 
              their views.  The Republican (Meeker) has promised Hispanics that
they
 will be an integral part of the future.  Meeker will hire a Hispanic
 
               if elected and make sure that jobs are available for them.  The
 
           Democrat is opposed to the Republican's idea of free trade with
 
           Mexico. The Democrat is looking after the labor groups.  He promises
 
               that their jobs are secure and that no foreigners will infiltrate
 
             their towns.  The Republican and Democrat agree that the real views
 
               will come out on election day. The majority's voice will be
heard.
 
        This protocol began with the inference that it was election time.  None of
 the non-headline protocols made that inference, while five of the nine
 
         with the headline did and did so at the start of the protocol.
Although
 
          the headline did not mention that the story is an election story, it
did
 
          say that a candidate was seeking votes.  Yet this is not much more
 
    descriptive of an election than was the first paragraph of the story, which
 strongly implied that it was election time.  The main subjects of the
 
        stories were introduced as candidates for Congress and as foes.
        It appeared that for some of the headline readers, the headline helped
 
         them access a schematic frame for elections and this frame helped them
to
 
          organize the story.  But, as suggested by Mayer (1987, 1984), advance
 
       organizers, which headlines appear to be, affect the type of information
 
          recalled.  Likewise, research on mental models indicated that they
were not
 good structures for recalling verbatim text, but instead helped readers
 
          integrate themes and ideas into established schema (McNamara et al.,
1991).
  Therefore, subjects are more likely to make inferences representative of
 
          schema intrusions when the headline works as an advance organizer
(what
 
         Mayer [1987] called assimilative encoding), while subjects without the
 
        advance organizer are more likely to recall facts such as ages, names,
and
 
          gender (what Mayer called additive encoding).
        Without a headline, readers began the story with a task orientation: "I
 
          will memorize facts because I know that this is an experiment and I
will be
 required to recall facts."  Instead of an election schematic frame, it
 
         appeared that the readers of the non-headline story either used the
 
     organization of the story or focused on the main agents in the story: a
 
         Republican, a Democrat, Hispanics and Labor.
        The other thing that happened was that seven of the nine headline
 
    protocols of the election story made some sort of value-laden comment about
 the agents in the stories, while only one such comment was generated in
 
          the non-headline version.  It should be noted that the headline
contained
 
          no value-laden information.
        The influence of schematic frames also was apparent in the transplant
 
        story.  The headline in this case stated that a feud has ended with an
 
        agreement.  A schematic frame for feuds was used by some of the headline
 
          readers in their protocols.  Only three of nine in the non-headline
 
     condition mentioned the animosity among hospitals, which is mentioned in
 
          the final paragraph of the story, while seven of nine in the headline
 
       condition mentioned the animosity.  Further, the three in the
non-headline
 
          condition mentioned animosity at the end of their protocols, the same
 
       organization as in the story, while in the headline condition, three of
the
 protocols mentioned the animosity in the first paragraph.
        Also, two other protocols in the headline condition began with a phrase
 
          taken directly from the story, "collaborative effort."   This phrase,
 
       mentioned by no one in the non-headline condition, was linked directly to
 
          the animosity paragraph, where it served as a bridge between the
statement
 
          that there is animosity and why there is animosity.
        Analysis of the protocols suggests that a schematic model formed after
 
         reading the headline was based on the connections between the
information
 
          in the reader's short-term memory and prior knowledge.  The headline
 
      appeared to provide the reader with material for building a schematic
model
 that is relevant to the text.
        Schematic frames.  According to Biocca's theory (1991) of semantic
 
     framing, a reader's semantic frame will change as the reader fills in
 
       details from the text.  If readers have a different starting point
 
    (headline vs. no headline), the details in the various frames should be
 
         different, with the headline condition exhibiting a more highly
integrated
 
          schematic frame.
        In this study, it was hoped that schematic frame theory would provide a
 
          method for quantitatively indicating differences among protocols from
 
       readers of headline and non-headline stories.  But because of the short
 
         length of the stories, there were limited findings for the framing of
the
 
          stories between conditions. See Table 3 for a chart of the codings.
 
------------------------------
Insert Table 2 about here
   -------------------------------
        The coding for semantic frames describes the types of inferences that
 
        readers made in their protocols.  In the hospital and the campaign
stories
 
          (especially in the campaign story), readers were more likely to infer
 
       cause-and-effect relationships in their narrative frames when they were
 
         furnished the headline.  And, in the candidates' story only, readers
also
 
          made inferences about descriptions of the agents at a much higher rate
than
 in the non-headline story.
        Two interesting patterns emerge when the campaign and hospital story are
 
          compared.  Because the campaign story has much more description of the
 
        agents, readers who did not have a headline focused on description (96
 
        compared to 62 for the headline condition).  It appears that readers who
 
          lacked a headline and thus a clue about how to organize the story
focused
 
          on the text for a clue and fixated on agent descriptions as an
organizing
 
          device.  But in the hospital story, without as much description and
more ab
 
          stract agents (institutions vs. people in the campaign story) readers
were
 
          more likely to focus on the narrative frame of the story, regardless
of the
 condition.
        The election story, for example, included the following inferences from
 
          the headline condition: readers described work shipped to Mexico as
"hard,"
 the Democratic candidate was motivated by her support of labor groups, and
 she talked to labor groups because she wanted their votes.  Nothing like
 
          this appeared in the non-headline protocols, where the most common
 
    inference was the fact that the Republican in hiring a Spanish-speaking
 
         staffer might hire a Mexican.
        With longer news stories, the results of the schematic frame coding might
 
          have been more extensive and allowed for a more rigorous analysis.
 
     Subjects appeared to be unwilling to stray beyond a straight narrative of
 
          the story.  About 98% of the comments were from the point of view of a
 
        third person who has no role in the story.  A more involving, longer
story
 
          (involvement was controlled for in this experiment) might have
provided
 
         richer differences in protocols.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
        Headlines helped readers recall information from a news story, and they
 
          also affected the type of information that readers process and store
in
 
         their memories.
        According to a post-hoc analysis, headlines led subjects to create mental
 
          models of the stories that differed from the models formed by subjects
who
 
          did not have headlines precede the stories.  The differences in the
mental
 
          models were manifested by organization and content of the protocols.
In
 
          general, subjects who read headlines appeared more likely to  take
cues
 
         from the headline in organizing information from the story and
integrating
 
          prior knowledge with knowledge from the stories.
        A theory of news headlines would suggest that headlines help readers frame
 the news they are about to read.  This type of framing also can be
 
     inferred from previous studies that suggested that headlines affected how
 
          people judged the subjects of stories, such as the guilt or innocence
of an
 accused criminal (Winkel, 1990; Pasternack, 1987; Tannebaum, 1953).  The
 
          results of the current study go beyond the concept that headlines bias
 
        thinking about the news subjects and suggest that headlines can affect
what
 readers remember from the stories.  This is a new finding and adds
 
     understanding to the role of the headline in newspapers.
         This study provides some clues about how headlines help readers process
 
          information.  Evidence from the reader protocols supports Mayer's
 
   theoretical explanation (1987, 1979) that AOs build external connections
 
          between the reader's prior knowledge and the text, integrating
incoming
 
         information with the reader's existing knowledge.  The protocols
provide
 
          numerous examples of readers' real world knowledge intruding into the
 
       protocols when a headline is part of the news.  Aided by headlines,
readers
 integrated the story information, which led to inferences and a mental
 
         model that reflected the "real world experience" of the subjects.
        When news stories were preceded by headlines, readers were more likely to
 
          include inferences and value judgments about the main agents of the
 
     stories.  Instead of just providing facts from the story, the readers
 
       showed that the facts had become integrated with information that had
been
 
          stored in their long-term memories. It appears that without a headline
to
 
          help integration and organization, some subjects memorized details.
        The analysis of the protocols according to Biocca's theory of schematic
 
          frames (1991) was exploratory.  It appeared successful, creating a
clearer
 
          picture of the mental processes affected by a headline.  The
classification
 of each proposition of the reader protocols suggests that headlines create
 schematic frames for readers and the frames affect what readers remember
 
          about the story.  The pattern of memory supports Biocca's contention
that a
 theoretical model could specify the cognitive procedures, or schematic
 
         frames, that are active in generating mental models.  These frames
access a
 person's schemata and help organize the information from the semantic
 
        frames of the message (Biocca, 1991).
        Biocca's schematic frames allowed a quantitative analysis of the readers'
 
          protocols.  The analysis picked up differences between the two news
stories
 used: one that had abstract agents (hospitals) and more concrete agents
 
          (political candidates).  In the hospital protocols, the agents are
located
 
          in a spatial world by all the subjects, who tended to remember a
sequence
 
          of events influenced by headline cues.  But when the agent is a
political
 
          candidate, the spatial world is less likely to be recalled while
specific
 
          descriptions of the agents are more likely.  When a headline is
present,
 
          fewer text-based descriptions are present, but there is an increase in
 
        descriptions that are based on reader inferences about political
 
  candidates.
        From this study, it is possible to sketch a theory for newspaper
 
   headlines.  A headline has typographic prominence and placement above a
 
         story and provides strong cues for cognitive processes.  An effective
 
       headline provides a way of organizing the concepts that a reader needs to
 
          understand a news story.  This organization occurs in short-term
memory,
 
          where material is made available from the senses to be integrated with
 
        prior knowledge held in long-term memory.  The effective headline helps
the
 reader integrate concepts from the news story and a schematic model is
 
         formed while reading the headline.  The headline provides the reader
with
 
          material for building a schematic model that is relevant to the text.
        Limitations.  This study has four major limitations.  First is the
 
     challenge to validity created by the laboratory setting.  Second is the
 
         nature of the stimuli, which, despite efforts to make the stories and
 
       headlines read as real newspaper stories, have low ecological validity
when
 compared with a real newspaper. The third major limitation is the use of
 
          student subjects, who are very different from the average newspaper
reader.
  Future studies--in the field using real newspapers--may yield interesting
 results.
        The fourth major limitation rests on the sample of messages.  Although two
 messages were used to limit the possibility that an idiosyncrasy of any
 
          one message was responsible for the results (Jackson, 1992), the
message
 
          sample was not random nor was it designed to be representative of
newspaper
 content.
        Other limitations affect the understanding of the results.  There may be
 
          idiosyncracies in the messages, or the manipulations, or the subjects
that
 
          led to the positive and negative results reported in this study.  For
 
       example, the headlines used may be more effective than the typical
headline
 used in a newspaper, or the content of the news stories may be a critical
 
          factor in bringing about the reported effects.
        Future studies.   As newspapers move toward their electronic futures, the
 
          role of headlines may become more important as readers are faced with
an
 
          increased number of messages.  Further studies of headlines could
isolate
 
          other content features of the headline summaries that might make them
more
 
          effective in helping readers learn.  The current study suggested that
there
 is a strong linkage between the headline and the lead paragraph as they
 
          help the reader form a mental model of the story.  Timely probes,
based on
 
          Biocca's schematic frame theory (1991),  could unravel how different
 
      message features affect reader processing of the news.
        Final summary.  This study supports the general idea, echoed in many of
 
          the studies involving headlines:  Readers take cues from headline,
which
 
          are more important than journalists have thought.  Although this study
has
 
          limitations, it clearly indicates that headlines help readers organize
news
 stories and learn from those stories.  Newspaper headlines appear to
 
       function as organizers, which integrate new ideas with readers' existing
 
          cognitive structures.
 
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 Table 1
Latin Square Design for Experiment 1
 
 
Story Topic and Condition Order
 (H= with head; NH=no head)
 
 
 
Reading order   1st      2nd     3rd     4th
--------------------------------------------
Story
Packet
1              A         B        C       D
               NH        H        NH      H
 
2              B         D        A       C
               NH        H        NH      H
 
3              C         A        D       B
               NH        H        NH      H
 
4              D         C        B       A
               NH        H        NH      H
 
 
A = Water Shortage Story
B = Hispanic Protest Story
C = Sign Ordinance Story
        D = Fishing Proposal Story
 
 Table 2
 
Number of Propositions by Schematic Frames by Story and Treatment
 
        Condition*
 
 
                HOSPITAL                CAMPAIGN
 
              Head     No Head        Head   No Head
               n=9       n=9           n=9     n=9
_______________________________________________________
SCHEMATIC
  FRAME
 
Narrative
Event          68         58           41       50
 
Narrative
Episode         1          7            0        4
 
Narrative
Event
Inferred       20         10           35        11
 
Narrative
Confused        4          3            3         3
 
Agent
Descriptive    18         17           62        96
 
Agent
Descriptive
Inferred        4          0           17         7
 
Agent
Confused        2          5            2         2
 
Agent
Motivation
(Inferred)      0          0            7         0
 
Possible World
Spatial          9          9            5         5
 
 
* Coded 588 propositions, another 14 propositions were not relevant to the
 
          texts

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