David Rapp Associate Professor

Program Area(s):



Reading comprehension; learning and memory

Research Interests

Reading comprehension involves a dynamic, interactive set of processes including 1) the activation of prior knowledge, 2) the use of that activated information along with the current text, and 3) the potential updating or revision of memory. My program of research examines how these higher-order activities function both successfully and unsuccessfully during reading. I also focus on the mechanisms that underlie our general, everyday reading experiences - for instance, how our preferences for events and characters directly influence our reading processes. Some of my work attempts to generalize these findings from text to a variety of learning conditions, including our experiences exploring spatial environments with maps, our understanding of procedures delivered through multimedia presentations, and the acquisition of scientific knowledge from novel visualizations. All of this work requires the integration of theory and research from different disciplines in psychology (including cognitive and educational psychology). Such an interdisciplinary view is important for both examining the basic mechanisms necessary for comprehension, as well as for advancing applied work that attempts to remediate comprehension difficulties.

Selected Publications

Brunyé, T. T., Mahoney, C. R., Rapp, D. N., Ditman, T., & Taylor, H. A.  (2012).  Caffeine enhances real-world language processing: Evidence from a proofreading task.  Journal of

Experimental Psychology: Applied, 18, 95-108.

McMaster, K.L., van den Broek, P., Espin, C., White, M.J., Rapp, D.N., Kendeou, P., Bohn-Gettler, C., & Carlson, S.  (2012).  Making the right connections: Differential effects of reading intervention for subgroups of struggling comprehenders.  Learning and Individual Differences, 22, 100-111.

Rapp, D. N.  (2011).  Comic books’ latest plot twist: Enhancing literacy instruction.  Phi Delta Kappan, 93, 64-67.

Bohn-Gettler, C.M., & Rapp, D.N. (2011). Depending on my mood: Mood-driven influences on text comprehension.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 103, 562-577.

Bohn-Gettler, C.M., Rapp, D.N., van den Broek, P.,  Kendeou, P., & White, M.J. (2011). Adults’ and children’s monitoring of story events in the service of comprehension.  Memory & Cognition, 39, 992-1011. 

Mensink, M.C., & Rapp, D.N.  (2011).  Evil geniuses: Inferences derived from evidence and preferences.  Memory & Cognition, 39, 1103-1116.

Peshkam, A., Mensink, M.C., Putnam, A.L., & Rapp, D.N.  (2011). Warning readers to avoid irrelevant information: When being vague might be valuable.  Contemporary Educational Psychology, 36, 219-231.

Sparks, J.R., & Rapp, D.N.  (2011). Readers’ reliance on source credibility in the service of inference generation.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37, 230-247.

Kurby, C. A., Magliano, J. P, & Rapp, D. N.  (2009).  Those voices in your head: The activation of auditory images during reading.  Cognition, 112, 457-461.

Rapp, D. N., & Kendeou, P.  (2009).  Noticing and revising discrepancies as texts unfold.  Discourse Processes, 46, 1-24.

Brunyé, T., Rapp, D.N., & Taylor, H.A.  (2008).  Representational flexibility and specificity following spatial descriptions of real world environments.  Cognition, 108, 418-443.

Lea, R. B., Rapp, D. N., Elfenbein, A., Mitchel, A. D., & Swinburne-Romine, R.  (2008).  Sweet silent thought: Alliteration and resonance in poetry comprehension.  Psychological Science, 19, 709-716.

Rapp, D. N.  (2008).  How do readers handle incorrect information during reading?  Memory & Cognition, 36, 688-701.

Maddox, K., Rapp, D. N., Brion, S., & Taylor, H. A.  (2008).  Social influences on spatial memory.  Memory & Cognition, 36, 479-494.

Rapp, D.N., & Kurby, C.A.  (2008).  The ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of learning: Internal representations and external visualizations.  In J.K. Gilbert, M. Reiner, & M. Nakhleh (Eds.), Visualization: Theory and Practice in Science Education (pp. 29-52). United Kingdom: Springer.

Rapp, D. N., Culpepper, S. A., Kirkby, K., & Morin, P.  (2007).  Fostering students’ comprehension of topographic maps.  Journal of Geoscience Education, 55, 5-16.  [Cover and lead article.]

Rapp, D. N., van den Broek, P., McMaster, K. L., Kendeou, P., & Espin, C. A.  (2007).  Higher-order comprehension processes in struggling readers: A perspective for research and intervention.  Scientific Studies of Reading, 11, 289-312.

Rapp, D. N. & Kendeou, P.  (2007).  Revising what readers know: Updating text representations during narrative comprehension.  Memory & Cognition, 35, 2019-2032.