The aim of this work is to study the acquisition and development of the ability to co-ordinate information in a written text. Fourth, 6th and 8th graders and undergraduates were assigned two conditions: they were presented with either two prose passages, describing two different peoples, or only one passage giving out the same information in a single text. The subjects read the passages and had to produce a text containing the comparison between the two peoples.
The analysis of the texts produced by the subjects evidenced six different information integration levels.
Two dependent variables were used:
the highest level present in each protocol
the percentage of level presence in each protocol.
For both variables, data show a developmental trend: older subjects tend to use more complex levels. In the older subjects the highest and the most frequent levels coincide in most cases; in the other age groups a differentiation between these two variables is observed. The two conditions produce different results: subjects perform better when presented with the single text. Moreover the use of the levels in the two conditions depends on and interacts with age. The younger subjects are more sensitive to the difficulty degree of the task and, as age increases, the two tasks give rise to performances more similar to one another.