What makes a matrix so effective? An empirical test of the relative benefits of signaling, extraction, and localization

Douglas F. Kauffman, Kenneth A. Kiewra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


What type of display helps students learn the most and why? This study investigated how displays differing in terms of signaling, extraction, and localization impact learning. In Experiment 1, 72 students were assigned randomly to one cell of a 4 × 2 design. Students studied a standard text, a text with key ideas extracted, an outline that localized ideas topically, and a matrix that localized ideas topically and categorically. One version of the displays signaled the displays' organization and one version did not. The matrix display proved best for facilitating fact and relationship learning because of its ability to localize related information within topics and categories. Simply signaling or extracting text ideas was not helpful. Experiment 2 demonstrated that not all matrices are created equal because they can vary in terms of how information is localized. About 54 students were assigned randomly to one cell of a 2 × 2 design that varied localization of matrix topics and categories. Students studied matrices high or low in topical organization and high or low in categorical organization. Results confirmed that a high, natural ordering of matrix topics is necessary to highlight relationships and bolster relationship and fact learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-705
Number of pages27
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2010



  • Graphic organizers
  • Matrix organizer
  • Study materials
  • Studying
  • Text processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this