Searching informational text involves use of text characteristics and task factors.
- Text characteristics include signalling devices (e.g., headings, subheadings, titles), typography (e.g., fonts, boldface or italic text), and structural features (e.g., organisation, graphics, paragraphing).
- Task conditions depend on how explicitly or implicitly search requirements have been stated and on whether the search problem involves a single, multiple, or complex formulation.
Research into young adolescent students' use of text characteristics to locate main ideas and details in a variety of task conditions led to the development of standardised paper-and-pencil assessments. Students easily located answers using a single, declarative, verbatim search term cued through typographic and signalling features. In contrast, students found most difficult locating answers using complex, multi-word search terms and extraction into graphic organizers or structural outline note-taking frames.