As with the more straightforward inferences, readers who are engaged in interpreting and integrating ideas and information in text may focus on local or global meanings, or may relate details to overall themes and ideas. In any case, these readers are making sense of the author’s intent and developing a more complete understanding of the entire text.

As readers interpret and integrate, they are attempting to construct a more specific or more complete understanding of the text by integrating personal knowledge and experience with meaning that resides within the text.102 For example, readers may draw on experience to infer a character’s underlying motive or to construct a mental image of the information conveyed. They often need to draw on their understanding of the world, as well as their background knowledge and experiences, more than they do for straightforward inferences.

As readers engage in this interpretive process, they are making connections that are not only implicit, but that may be open to some interpretation based on their own perspective. Because of this, meaning that is constructed through interpreting and integrating ideas and information is likely to vary among readers, depending upon the experiences and knowledge they bring to the reading task.

Using the internet requires the ability to read and digest information from multiple online sources.103 Integrating and synthesizing information across texts is very challenging, even offline, because readers need to comprehend not only one text, but consolidate information across two or more texts. In the internet environment, this includes information presented via animation and videos as well as in pop-up windows and rollover text and graphics.

Items classified as “Interpret and Integrate Ideas and Information,” use concepts and generalizations not explicitly stated in the text. The new ideas or information may be included in the item stem, the acceptable response, or both. A full credit response requires comprehension of the entire text, or at least significant portions of it, as well as ideas or information that go beyond the text.

Reading tasks that may exemplify this type of text processing include the following:

  • Discerning the overall message or theme of a text;
  • Considering an alternative to actions of characters;
  • Comparing and contrasting text information;
  • Inferring a story’s mood or tone;
  • Interpreting a real-world application of text information; and
  • Comparing and contrasting information presented within and across texts or websites.