Due to the commercial success of digital reading devices and the rapid digitization process that is occurring in education, there are now questions as to whether reading on screen has an impact on the reading comprehension of students. Anne Mangen and colleagues from the University of Stavanger designed a study in order to determine whether students comprehend texts better when reading the text on paper versus reading the text on screen. In order to conduct this study, the researchers retained 72 tenth graders and split them into two groups. One group (n1 = 25) was asked to read the two texts in print, whereas the second group (n2 = 47) was asked to read the same two texts on a digital screen. After reading the two pieces of text, members of both groups were asked to take reading comprehension tests. Those who read on screen did worse on the reading comprehension tests compared to those who read the texts in print. In other words, there was evidence that reading a text on a screen may impair learning from text compared to reading from paper. It seems that more research and consideration is required to evaluate the effects of transitioning from printed text to digital reading devices. In the meantime school boards should err on the side of caution and not undertake expensive rapid digitization programs when the effects of this digitization are not known.
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Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R., & Brønnick, K. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61–68.