Reading strategy instruction has been an important area in educational psychology for decades, however, research has primarily focused on its influence on learning outcomes rather than learning processes; reading pure texts rather than illustrated texts; and immediate effect rather than retention effect. This study used an eye-tracker to investigate the immediate and delayed effects of text–diagram reading instruction on reading comprehension and learning processes in illustrated text reading. Fourth-grade students with high (N = 66) and low reading ability (N = 66) were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a text–diagram group who received text–diagram instruction which emphasized diagram decoding and integration of relevant textual and pictorial information, a placebo group who received instruction which emphasized comprehension monitoring, and a control group which received no reading instruction. All participants read four illustrated science texts for a baseline check, instructional example, immediate testing, and delayed testing. The results showed that the effect of text–diagram instruction was more evident in the immediate test than the delayed test. The eye-movement pattern showed that the students who received text–diagram reading instruction spent significantly more reading time on illustrations, made more integrative transitions between text and illustrations, and spent a higher proportion of total reading time on illustrations in immediate and delayed reading situations than the other groups. Overall, this study developed an effective text–diagram instruction method to promote reading comprehension, identified the reading processes underlying the effect of text–diagram strategy instruction, and depicted the changing appearances of reading instruction intervention over time.
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