A Construction-integration Approach To Learning in the Workplace: Text Coherence and Adult Learning

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Psychology and Special Education

Date of Award

Fall 2011


This research tested a cognitive theory that subjects with high domain knowledge would increase their learning by utilizing low-coherence text. Participants and instruction were selected from adults engaged in workplace education at a community college. The 18 participants selected ranged from 21 - 51 years of age, mean=36.1, s.d.=8.69, were chosen. They were enrolled in a course in radiologic technology. Participants were pretested for prior knowledge, and each read original text material and low-coherence modified identical material. Posttests were conducted after each learning session, and a significant MANOVA confirmed that the subjects learned at a higher level using the coherence-modified original text than they did when using the verbatim, original text material. The results indicated that the theory, primarily developed using subjects in public school, colleges, and universities research, is generalizable to learning, education, and training of adults in the workplace. Cognitive theory holds that lowering coherence in text used by high domain knowledge subjects induces additional cognitive processing v that incorporates what they have learned with their domain knowledge enabling them to fill gaps in low-coherence text. This additional cognitive processing creates higher learning levels for these subjects. This research supported the theory and indicates it is generalizable to the workplace environment, fully acknowledging the differences in adult learning objectives, the variances in their learning and educational continuum, and the workplace environment that is quite different than public school, college, and university learning environments. The research concludes that this cognitive theory is applicable to the education, learning, and training that is accomplished in the workplace. Employers today invest increasing amounts of their operating budgets to improving employees' effectiveness in order to achieve higher production, greater employee retention, increasing global competiveness, and the expansion of a trained and capable workforce. This cognitive theory of learning from low-coherence texts promises immediate application to increase learning, to generate subsequent impacts on transfer, to increase in employees' production, and to create an overall improvement in their cost/production ratios.


Raymond Green

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Psychology