Research Projects

Comprehension of media

Scene Perception and Event Cognition Theory (SPECT). When we experience visual narratives (comics, TV shows, Movies) there is a coordination of visual perception, attention, and comprehension processes. Studies testing SPECT explore how processes such as inference generation affect where we look when we watch filmed narratives or read static sequential narratives.

Example publications:

Hutson, J. P., Magliano, J. P., & Loschky, L. C. (2018). Understanding moment-to-moment Processing of visual narratives. Cognitive Science, 42, 299-3033.

Loschky, L. C., Larson, A. M., Magliano, J. P., & Smith, T. J. (2020). The Scene perception and event comprehension theory (SPECT) applied to visual narratives. Topics in Cognitive Science, 12, 311-351.

Loschky, L. C. Larson, A. M., Magliano, J. P., & Smith, T. J. (2015). What would Jaws do? The tyranny of film and the relationship between gaze and higher-level narrative film comprehension. Plos One, 10, 1-23.

Multimedia processing of narratives. Visual narratives combine language and images. This area of research explores how different modalities combine to support comprehension

Example publications:

Kopatich, R. D., Feller, D. P., Kurby, C. A., & Magliano, J. P. (2019). The role of character goals and changes in body position in the processing of events in visual narratives. Cognitive Research. Principles and Implications, 4, 1-15. DOI: 10.1186/s41235-019-0176-1

Cinematic practices and comprehension. Filmmakers use cinematics to convey stories in fiction films. This area of research focuses on the impact of these practices on various aspects of experiencing fiction film.

Example publications:

Clinton, J. A., Briner, S. W., Sherrill, A. M., Ackerman, T., & Magliano, J. P. (2017). The role of cinematic techniques in understanding character affect. Scientific Study of Literature, 7, 177-202.

Magliano, J. P., & Zacks, J. M. (2011). The impact of continuity editing in narrative film on event segmentation. Cognitive Science, 35, 1489-1517.

Magliano, J. P., Kurby, C. A., Ackerman, T., Garlitch, S. & M., Stewart, J. M. (2020). Lights, camera, action: The role of editing and framing on the processing of filmed events. Journal of Cognitive Psychology.

Basic cognitive processes that support comprehension. Understanding the cognitive foundations of making sense of texts, comics, and movies/tv shows is at the core of the research conducted by the media comprehension lab.

Example publications:

Asiala, L. K. E., Chan, G. C., Kurby, C. A., & Magliano, J. P. (2020). The role of goal barriers in predicting the outcomes of intentional actions in the context of narrative text. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 32 (1), 82-92. DOI:10.1080/20445911.2019.1690494

Feller, D. P., Eerland, A., Ferretti, T. R., & Magliano, J. P. (2019). Aspect and narrative event segmentation. Collabra: Psychology, 5(1), 1-12. DOI:

Feller, D. P., Newberry, K. Kurby, C. A., Schwan, S., & Magliano, J. P. (2023). The Effects of domain knowledge and event structure on event processing. Memory & Cognition, 51, 101-114.

Understanding what factors affect adults success understanding and using media

What makes college readers more or less ready to read in college? We explore answers to this this question in a project that was funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. Across several studies, we explored how foundational skills of reading, reading strategies, task awareness, and motivation support college student’s ability to successfully use texts to solve the kinds of reading activities that they are asked to do in their college coursework.

Example publications:

Magliano, J. P., Higgs, K., Santuzzi, A., Tonks, S. M., O’Reilly, T., Sabatini, J., Feller, D. P., Kopatich, R. J. Ray, M., & Parker, C. (2020). Testing the inference mediation hypothesis in a post-secondary context. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 61. DOI:

Magliano, J. P., Talwar, A., Feller, D. P., Wang, Z., O’Reilly, T., & Sabatini, J. (2023). Exploring thresholds in the foundational skills for reading and comprehension outcomes in the context of postsecondary readers. Journal of Learning Disorders, 56, 43-57. DOI: 10.1177/00222194221087

Talwar, A., Magliano, J. P., Higgs, K., Santuzzi, A., Tonks, S. O’Reilly, T., Sabatini, J. (2022). Early academic success in college: Examining the contributions of reading literacy skills, metacognitive reading Strategies, and reading motivation. Journal of College Reading and Learning, DOI: 10.1080/10790195.2022.2137069.

Tonks, S. M., Magliano, J. P., Ray, M., & Schwartz, J. (2021). How situational competence beliefs and task value Relate to inference Strategies and comprehension during reading.Learning and Individual Difference, 90. DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2021.102036

Using construct response to learn about readers

We explore how to use student constructed responses that are produced during reading to help learn about what is involved in making sense of texts and what makes readers more or less successful at comprehending what they read. One type of constructed response is called a “think aloud” response in which readers are asked to produce whatever thoughts they have when they read. Another type of constructed response occurs when readers are told to self explain the text as they read. Member of the Media Comprehension Lab are part of a collaborative nextwork including Laura Allen (University of Minnesota), Danielle McNamara (Arizona State University), and Katie McCarthy (Georgia State University) to develop ways to get computers to collect and analyze student constructed responses. This research was funded by the Institute of Education Sciences.

Example publications:

​​Allison, S. N., Magliano, J. P., McCarthy, C. S., Creer, S. D., McNamara, D. S., & Allen, L. K. (2022). Integration in multiple-document comprehension: A natural language processing approach. Discourse Processes, 59, 417-438.

Flynn, L. E., McNamara, D. S., McCarthy, K. S., Magliano, J. P., & Allen L. K. (2021). The appearance of coherence: Using cohesive properties of readers’ constructed responses to predict individual differences. Revista Signos. Estudios de Lingüística, 54, 1061-1088. DOI: 10.4067/S0718-09342021000301061

Magliano, J. P., Flynn, L., Feller, D. P., McCarthy, K. S., McNamara, D. S., Allen, L. (2022). Leveraging a multidimensional linguistic analysis of constructed responses produced by college readers. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 936162. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.936162

Magliano, J. P., Millis, K.K., The RSAT Development Team1, Levinstein, I., & Boonthum, C. (2011). Assessing comprehension during reading with the reading strategy assessment Tool (RSAT). Metacognition and Learning, 6, 131-154.



Research Center for the Acquisitions of Language and Literacy seed grant for “Exploring the implications of processing textsin American Sign Language and English in Deaf Adults, (2023-2024), J. P. Magliano (PI), Peter Crume (Co-PI), & Jessica Scott (Co-PI). $37,553.

BBVA Foundation Research (Spain) for Multi-plot aesthetics and information density in contemporary television series (July 2022 – December 2023), Pérez, H. (PI), Zornoza, B.(Co-PI), Magliano, J. P. (Co-PI), Rapp, D. N. . (Co-PI), Bohn-Gettler, C. M. (Co-PI), Bueno, M., . (Co-PI), Santaolalla, V. . (Co-PI), Varea, J . Co-PI)., Congosto, A. . (Co-PI), & Cabañas, C . (Co-PI), 30,000€

US Department of Education grant for Developing a Deeper Understanding of Cognitive Processes Driving Multiple Document Comprehension (2018-2023), D. S., McNamara (PI), L, Allen (Co-PI) J. P. Magliano (Co-PI), K. McCarthy (Co-PI). Subcontract to Georgia State University, $1,399,466
(subcontract to GSU, $438,123).

Institute for Healthcare Advancement for Tailoring Stroke Education Materials to Increase Accuracy of Perceived Stroke Risk among African American Young Adults Feinberg, (2022-2024) Feinberg, I. (PI), Aycock, D. (Co-PI), Magliano, J. P., (Co-PI), Tighe, E. (Co-PI), $25,000.

Previously awarded grants

US Department of Education grant for Using Computational Linguistics to Detect Comprehension Processes in Constructed Responses across Multiple Large Data Sets, (2019-2023), D. S., McNamara (PI), L, Allen (Co-PI) J. P. Magliano (Co-PI), K. McCarthy (Co-PI). $600,000 (Subcontract to Georgia State University, $175,100).

Georgia State University COVID relief grant for “Exploring how struggling adult readers understand picture stories” (2021-2022), J. P. Magliano (Pi). $5000

US Department of Education grant for “Exploring the OnPAR Model in a Developmental Educational Context (2015-2020), J. P. Magliano (PI), C. Parker (Co-PI), S Tonks (Co-PI). $1,571,213.

Adult Literacy Research Center, Georgia State University, Status: Exploring the Ability of Struggling Adult Readers to Generate Bridging Inferences in Visual Narratives: A Comparison of Eye-Tracking Methodologies (July 2019 - June 2020), Feller, D. (Principal), Tighe, E. (Co-Principal), Magliano, J. (Co-Principal), $3,333.00.

Research Center for the Acquisitions of Language and Literacy seed grant for “Developing materials to explore the nature of comprehension challenges in adults with low literacy skills, (2019-2020), J. P. Magliano (PI) & K. McCarthy (Co-PI). $20,000.

National Science Foundation for Integrating Cognitive and Computational Models of Narrative Cinematic Generation (2014-2016), R. M. Young (PI) & J. P. Magliano (PI). This is a multi-site, collaborative project and NIU portion is for $146,950.

US Department of Education subcontract grant for “Reading for Understanding Across Grades 6 through 12: Evidence-based Argumentation for Disciplinary Learning (2010-2015). M. Anne Britt (PI), J. P. Magliano (Co-PI) on the subcontract grant. S. R. Goldman is the PI on the grant. $2,416,211 for the subcontract and $19,200,000 for the full grant.

Law School Admissions Council grant for “Assessing the Impact of Topic Interests on Comprehension Processes” (August, 2009-August 2010). J. P. Magliano (PI), A. Durik (Co-PI), J Holt (Co-PI), $85,312.

Northern Illinois University grant for “Interdisciplinary Institute for the Study of Language and Literacy (IISLL)” (December, 2008 – July 211). L. Elish-Piper (Co-PI), J. Holt (Co-PI), J. P. Magliano (Co-PI), M. C. Smith (Co-PI), $176,000.

US Department of Education grant for “Acquiring research investigative and evaluative skills (ARIES) for scientific inquiry ” (September 2007-August 2011). K.,K. Millis (Project Director), M. A., Britt (Co-PI), J. P., Magliano (C0-PI), K. Wiemer-Hasting (Co-PI), $1,986,743.

US Department of Education grant for “Assessing reading skill with verbal protocols and latent semantic analysis” (July 2004-June 2008). J.P. Maglinao (PI) & K.,K. Millis (Co-PI), $1,560,506.

US Department of Education grant for “Recruitment and Retention of Minority Role Models in Science and Engineering through Improving Critical Thinking Skills and Scientific Understanding” (August, 2005 – July, 2006) 6K. Millis, K. (PI), Magliano, A. Britt, K. Wiemer-Hastings (CO-PIs), $297,600.

Research contract from Sandia National Laboratories for “Learning from an Expert (January 2001 - September 2006).” J.P. Magliano (PI) 20,000.

Research contract from Sandia National Laboratories for “Testing a model of situation recognition (January 2002 - September 2004).” 100,000. J.P. Magliano (PI)

NSF Subcontract Grant (CFDA No. 47.076), “Promoting Active Reading Strategies to Improve Students Understanding of Science,” (2001-2006), K. Millis, J. Magliano, & K. Wiemer-Hastings (Co-Pls), $600,253.

Graduate School Summer Research Grant, Northern Illinois University (1999), $6,000.

NRSA (Post-doctoral) from National Institute of Deafness and Other Communications Disorders (1994-1996), Fellowship #1 F32DC00158-01, $62,000.