{short description of image}

Anne Britt, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Psychology Department 
Office: 363 Psychology 
Phone: (815) 753-7082 
Fax: (815) 753-8088 

I do really cool research about how people comprehend, evaluate and write arguments. In earlier work, our research team found significant deficits in college students’ ability to comprehend, evaluate, and produce arguments. The source of these deficits was traced, and three tutorials were developed that provide instruction and practice to improve these argument skills. Each tutorial has been shown to be effective in overcoming particular deficits. In our current project we are developing computer-based instructional modules to improve their argument comprehension and production skills. These modules will be available online as stand-alone lessons and as a course presented in the context of a simple role playing game.


In collaboration with Charles Perfetti, Gareth Gabrys, and Mara Georgi, I  developed a java application, the Sourcer's Apprentice, to train high-school students to better attend to source information in citation. Go to a short demo of the Sourcer's Apprentice .

I am part of the Discourse and Technology group here at NIU.  We are always looking for new people to work with.  Check it out!

Published papers



Research Methods (Psyc 305)

            Cognitive Psychology (Psyc 345)

Instructional Psychology (Psyc 614X)

Advanced Statistics (Psyc 604)

Sources for psychology majors



B.S. Psychology, University of Dayton, 1983

M.S. Cognitive Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, 1987

Ph.D. Cognitive Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, 1991 at the Learning Research and Development Center


Research interests:

Argument comprehension and production.

Technology and literacy education.

Integration of semantic information across multiple documents.

Learning and reasoning from multiple documents.



Standing member on the grant panel for Basic Processes Panel (IES), U.S. Department of Education (2006-2008). Member of grant review panels: 2003-2008.

Expert panel: OECD-sponsored international survey of adult literacy "Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies" (2008-2009).

Editorial board for Journal of Educational Psychology (2008-2009).

Developed Getting Into Graduate School Seminar (GIGSS) to help majors figure out the maze of applying to grad school (Fall 2008-Spring 2009).

Co-taught graduate seminar on Learning from multiple documents at the University of Oslo, Institute for Educational Research (2008).

Steering committee member for Society for Text and Discourse (2005-2011).

Steering committee member for Society For Computers In Psychology (2004-2006).

Faculty advisor to the Student Psychological Association (2004-2009).



Acquiring Research  Investigative and Evaluative Skills (ARIES) for Scientific Inquiry R305B070349 (2007-2011). $1,986,743.00 from the U.S. Department of Education. PI: Keith Millis. Co-PI’s with, Katja Wiemer, and Joe Magliano..


Recruitment and Retention of Minority Role Models in Science and Engineering through Improving Critical Thinking Skills and Scientific Understanding $297,600 from the U.S. Department of Education. Keith Millis PI, CO-PIs with Katja Wiemer, and Joe Magliano.


Creating a Usable Environment to Teach Argument Comprehension and Production Skills (2005-2008).  $574,931 from the U.S. Department of Education.


Improving students comprehension and construction of arguments (2002-2005).  $358,876 from the U.S. Department of Education.


Testing a model of situation recognition (January 2002 - September 2004). $100,000 for research contract from Sandia National Laboratories. Co-PI’s with Joe Magliano and John Skowronski.


Argument Comprehension and Production in college students (6/02 -6/03). NIU Social Science Research Institute Faculty Fellowship.


Recent papers:


Wolfe, C.R., Britt, M.A., Petrovic, M., Albrecht, M., & Kopp, K. (Accepted). The efficacy of a web-based counterargument tutor. Behavior Research Methods.


Wolfe, C.R., Britt, M.A., & Butler, J.A. (2009). Argumentation Schema and the Myside Bias in Written Argumentation. Written Communication. (PDF)


Strømsø, H.I., Bråten, I., & Britt, M.A. (2009). Reading multiple texts about climate change: The relationship between memory for sources and text comprehension. Learning and Instruction. (PDF)


Larson, A.A., Britt, M. A., & Kurby, C. (Accepted). Improving students’ evaluation of informal arguments. Journal of Experimental Education.


Bråten, I., Strømsø, H.I., & Britt, M.A.  (2009). Trust matters: Examining the role of source evaluation in students’ construction of meaning within and across multiple texts. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(1), 6–28. (PDF)


Durik, A.M., Britt, M.A., Reynolds, R., & Storey, J.K. (2008). The effects of hedges in persuasive arguments: A nuanced analysis of language. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 27 (3), 217-234. (PDF)


Britt, M. A., Kurby, C. A., Dandotkar, S., & Wolfe, C.R. (2008). I agreed with what? Memory for simple argument claims. Discourse Processes, 45(1), 52-84. (PDF)


Wolfe, C.R. & Britt, M.A. (2008). The locus of the Myside Bias in written argumentation. Thinking and Reasoning, 14(1), 1–27. (PDF)


Magliano, J.P., Skowronski, J., Britt, M.A, Guss, D., & Forsythe, C. (2008). What do you want? How perceivers use cues to make goal inferences about others. Cognition, 106, 594–632.


Coutinho, S., Wiemer-Hastings, K., Skowronski, J.J., & Britt, M.A. (2005). Metacognition, need for cognition and use of explanations during ongoing learning and problem solving. Learning and Individual Differences, 15(4), 321-337.


Kurby, C.A., Britt, M.A., & Magliano, J.P. (2005). The role of top-down and bottom-up processes in between-text integration. Reading Psychology, 26(4-5), 335-362. (PDF)


Britt, M.A., & Sommer, J. (2004). Facilitating textual integration with macro-structure focusing task. Reading Psychology, 25, 313 - 339.  (PDF)


Britt, M.A., Wiemer-Hasting, P., Larson, A., & Perfetti, C.A. (2004). Automated feedback on source citation in essay writing. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 14(3-4), 359 – 374. (PDF)


Larson, M., Britt, M.A., & Larson, A. (2004). Disfluencies in comprehending argumentative texts. Reading Psychology, 25(3), 205-224. (PDF)


Britt, M.A., & Gabrys, G. (2004). Collecting responses through Web page drag and drop. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 36(1), 52-68.


Sagarin, B. J., Britt, M. A., Wood, S., Heider, J., & Lynch, J. (2004). Intrusive technology: Bartering and stealing consumer attention. In W. R. Walker, & D. K. Herrmann (Eds), Cognitive technology: Essays on the transformation of thought and society (pp. 69-88). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers..


Sagarin, B. J., Britt, M. A., Wood, S., Heider, J., & Lynch, J. (2003). Bartering Our Attention: The Distraction and Persuasion Effects of On-Line Advertisements. Cognitive Technology, 8(3).


Britt, M.A. & Larson, A. (2003). Construction of argument representations during on-line reading.  Journal of Memory and Language, 48(4), 749-810.


Britt, M.A., & Aglinski, C. (2002). Improving student’s ability to use source information. Cognition and Instruction, 20(40), 485-522.


Britt, M.A., & Gabrys, G. (2002). Implications of document-level literacy skills for web-site design. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 34(2), 170-176.


Britt, M.A., & Gabrys, G. (2001).  Teaching advanced literacy skills for the World Wide Web. In Wolfe, Christopher R. (Ed). Learning and teaching on the World Wide Web (pp. 73-90). San Diego, CA, US: Academic Press.


Britt, M.A., Perfetti, C.A., Van Dyke, J., & Gabrys, G. (2000).  The Sourcer’s Apprentice: A Tool for Document-Supported History Instruction. To appear in P. Stearns  (Ed.), Knowing, Teaching and Learning History: National and International Perspectives. New York: NYU Press.



Discourse technology group

Argument understanding

Sourcer's Apprentice

M. Anne Britt (britt@niu.edu )

Last updated: 1/5/09