Andrew Chiarella (Photo)

Andrew Chiarella

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology
Athabasca University

Current research


Authors augment their texts using devices such as bold and italic typeface to signal important information to the reader; these are called typographical text signals. Reading research has shown that such signals have a modest, positive effect on readers' recall and comprehension of what they have read. Typically, text signals are an example of a signal designed by one person, the author, to have some effect on others, the readers. However, some signals emerge through the unplanned, indirect, and collective efforts of a group of individuals. Paths emerge in parks without having been designed by anyone. Objects accumulate wear patterns that signal how others have interacted with the object. Social bookmarking and tagging websites allow a large, anonymous collective to generate and then select out tags (keywords) that denote what a resource is about or useful for. Digital text and the large-scale collaboration made possible through the internet provide an opportunity to examine how unplanned, social text signals could emerge in a text by aggregating the individual annotations produced by a collective of readers. CoREAD, a social annotation application, was designed using a self-organizing (complex) systems perspective to enable such social text signalling. Using this software it is possible to examine if and how social text signals emerge and what effects they have on readers.


I currently have two related research projects: one is funded internally and the other externally as indicated below.

Funding source Project details
Research Incentive Grant provided by Athabasca University RIG
Insight Development Grant from SSHRC (2011-2013) IDG