In light of this research, we expected reading comprehension to be the strongest predictor of students’ ORC performance.Of the other explanatory factors, prior topic knowledge has been shown to play an important role in comprehension of single and multiple texts (e.g., Mc Namara & Kintsch, ).Understanding the consequences of poor literacy skills would help educators to design tasks and supports for students with varying literacy skills.
In light of this research, we expected reading comprehension to be the strongest predictor of students’ ORC performance.
To achieve as thorough an understanding as possible on aspects related to ORC performance, we also included prior knowledge and nonverbal reasoning into our examination, as prior knowledge and inferential processes are seen as integral components of reading comprehension (Mc Namara & Magliano, ), which identifies five crucial component skills: (1) identifying an important question or a problem to solve, (2) locating information, (3) evaluating information critically, (4) synthesizing information, and (5) communicating information (see also Brand-Gruwel et al., that one has learned requires good argumentation skills and the ability to address a specific audience.
Presenting well justified arguments requires practice, especially when the information is controversial (Driver, Newton, & Osborne, ) confirmed the basic structure of the four component skills (locate, evaluate, synthesize, and communicate) while also suggesting the introduction of additional complexity to the skill structure.
The ORC skills of 426 sixth graders were measured using a Finnish adaptation of the Online Research and Comprehension Assessment.
Results of a structural equation model showed that these ORC skills were divided into six highly correlated factors, and that they formed a common factor in ORC.
Second, synthesizing was divided into two separate components: identifying main ideas from a single online text, and synthesizing information across multiple online texts.
This suggests that the process of building coherent intertextual relationships across multiple online texts requires somewhat different skills than building coherence within a single online text (Cho & Afflerbach, ).
However, sometimes readers face difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition, as well as with poor written spelling and decoding abilities, which may also lead to reading comprehension difficulties (Perfetti, ) found that even though prior topic knowledge played an important role in online research and comprehension performance of students with low online reading skills, it did not influence the performance of students with high online reading skills.
Further, a recent study showed that even though prior topic knowledge was associated with knowledge acquisition after engaging with multiple web pages on a socio-scientific topic, it was not associated with multiple source integration (Andresen, Anmarkrud, & Bråten, ).
These results suggest that prior knowledge is also an important factor in online research; however, further research is needed to better understand its role.
In addition to prior topic knowledge, theoretical models of reading specify inferential processes as integral for reading comprehension (Kendeou, Mc Master, & Christ, ).