All posts, English, Irish & Communication, Research

The medium matters: new research into reading comprehension shows paper is preferred to digital screens

We live in an era of ever more swift and pervasive digitisation. Digital technologies offer tremendous opportunities with respect to the production, access, storage and transmission of information, at the same time as they challenge a number of long established reading practices. Over the last four years a group of almost 200 scholars and scientists of reading, publishing, and literacy from across Europe, have been researching the impact of digitisation on reading practices.

Dr Ann Marcus Quinn (School of English, Irish and Communication, University of Limerick) is the only Irish representative on the published work, The Stavanger Declaration, which shows that paper remains the preferred reading medium for longer single texts, especially when reading for deeper comprehension and retention, and that paper best supports long-form reading of informational texts.

Reading long-form texts is invaluable for a number of cognitive achievements, such as concentration, vocabulary building and memory. Thus, it is important that we preserve and foster long-form reading as one of a number of reading modes. In addition, as screen use continues to grow, it will be one of the urgent challenges to discover ways in which to facilitate deep reading of long-form texts in a screen environment.

Dr Ann Marcus Quinn worked with the University of Reading and the Department of Education focusing on post-primary student use of eLearning for reading-based activities. In 2019 there is still very little known about the impact of typographic presentation on e-learning. The work undertaken explores whether different degrees of visual differentiation applied to typographic signalling (e.g. the visual signalling of changes in content, structure, emphasis, or navigation cues) influence learners’ motivation and recall when engaging with digital interfaces. The research will contribute to shaping cross disciplinary knowledge and methodological approaches to the study of e-learning. The findings of this project will also contribute to developing guidelines that teachers (with increasing responsibility for creating e-learning materials but no design experience) can use to inform their practice.

Read more at: ereadcost.eu/stavanger-declaration/

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