Mind maps as primers when reading-for-learning in elementary grades? An eye tracking study

Emmelien Merchie*, Leen Catrysse, Hilde Van Keer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Mind maps are often used to help readers process texts, but their effectiveness is empirically under-investigated. This study explores whether the use of mind maps presented either before or after the text can prime successful selective processing strategies related to the text topic structure. Differences in performance outcomes (i.e., memory and comprehension) are also investigated. Sixty-four late elementary education students were randomly assigned to a text-only-condition (T), mind map-text-condition (MMT) or text-mind map-condition (TMM). All groups studied an informative text while their eye movements were registered. Multilayered posttests and interviews were administered. Linear mixed effect models and one-way analysis of variances show that presenting a mind map beforehand primes more successful selective processing strategies than when the mind map is presented afterwards or not presented. In contrast, the TMM-condition outperformed the others in their amount of free recall and coherence. This study suggests that both receiving a mind map before or after text processing can be beneficial during targeted instruction in view of successful reading-for-learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-65
Number of pages43
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Reading-for-learning
  • Mind maps
  • Eye tracking
  • Elementary education


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