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Reading processes online vs. paper

Background:  There has been a good deal of research on the physical processes of reading print texts, but similar research has not to my knowledge been undertaken in the online environment, where students may be distracted by graphics, photos, hyperlinks, advertising, etc. A related question would be whether the graphical supports are a help or a hindrance in the students' reading process. Dillon has made a preliminary review of the

empirical literature from a technological standpoint, indicating that colors, screen size, spacing, etc., can play a role in reading ease or difficulty and thus affect learning.  (Dillon, A.  [1992]. Reading from paper versus reading from screens: A critical review of the empirical literature. Ergonomics, 35, pp. 1297-1326.)

Research question:   Is there a difference in the way students read online vs. the reading process in paper text?

Suggested methodology/comments:  A study of this question might include the examination of similar texts, one in a typical paper format and the other online or in an electronic book using two or more classes at similar levels of English proficiency. The study should include both physical processes, such as a recording of eye movements, and comprehension, perhaps through the use of a Reading Miscue Inventory.

Contact: Elizabeth Hanson-Smith   ehansonsmi@yahoo.com

Reader Comments: --

1/11/17: You might be interested in my book Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World (Oxford 2015). The book includes an overview of studies (including of eye tracking and comprehension) comparing reading in the two media. 

Naomi S. Baron; nbaron@american.edu

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