This study investigated the effects of cognitive load in the processing of expository text between skilled and less skilled readers from three selected Junior High Schools in one Municipality in Ghana. The findings of this study show consistent pattern of differences between skilled and less skilled readers when tested on item difficulty as function of abstractness along five variables and item difficulty as degree of inference along four variables: the more difficult the task given to the two groups, the wider the performance differences across the different variables between them. This was interpreted as cognitive load effect: whereas some tasks may facilitate a particular type of text comprehension, others may not be that effective especially for less proficient readers. Unlike skilled readers whose lower-level processes are well automated, the poor readers in this experimental study allocated more attention to lower processes and consequently attention allocation to higher mental process and global text features was impaired. Instructional implications for enhancing coherent text base among less proficient readers are suggested.
Keywords: cognitive load; expository text; pedagogical implications