Higgins, J., Russell, M., & Hoffmann, T. (2005). Examining the effect of computer-based passage presentation on reading test performance . The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment , 3 (4). https://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/jtla/issue/archive

Journal Article

Higgins, J., Russell, M., & Hoffmann, T. (2005). Examining the effect of computer-based passage presentation on reading test performance. The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 3(4). https://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/jtla/issue/archive


[no doi located]


Electronic administration; Electronic administration; Electronic administration; Elementary; Highlighting by student; Learning disabilities; Line reading device or software; No disability; Reading; Screen display; Speech/Language disability; Student survey; U.S. context





The potential effects of presentation form on assessment performance was investigated. The three test conditions included: (a) paper-and-pencil, (b) computer administration using scrolling text to navigate through passages, and computer administration using paging text to navigate through reading text passages.


A total of 219 students in grade 4 from across eight schools in Vermont (U.S.) participated. Participants included students with reading-related or language disabilities, and English learners (ELs), as well as students non-special education students; numbers for these student populations were not provided. Students with disabilities were not examined as a separate comparison group.

Dependent Variable

The researchers assembled the reading comprehension test with text passages and multiple choice items released from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and New Hampshire state assessments. The researchers also developed three other tools to collect data to consider relevant factors: (a) computer fluidity test, measuring participants' skills in keyboarding and using the mouse to drag digital images on the screen; (b) computer literacy test, documenting familiarity with computer functions and terms; and (c) computer use survey, comprising demographic items and questions about technology use at home and during the study. This third tool was adapted from the Use, Support, and Evaluation of Instructional Technology (USEIT) study (Russell, Bebell, and O’Dwyer, 2003).


There were no significant differences in reading comprehension scores across test presentation modes. There were no significant differences in scores based on computer fluidity and computer literacy. The majority of students who took the reading test on a computer indicated that they would prefer to take the test on computer. Providing highlighters and review markers is useful for some students. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research possibilities were suggested.