Srivastava, P., & Gray, S. (2012). Computer-based and paper-based reading comprehension in adolescents with typical language development and language-learning disabilities . Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools , 43 (4), 424–437.

Journal Article

Srivastava, P., & Gray, S. (2012). Computer-based and paper-based reading comprehension in adolescents with typical language development and language-learning disabilities. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 43(4), 424–437.


Electronic administration; Electronic administration; Electronic administration; Intelligence test; K-12; Layout/organization of test items; Middle school; No disability; Reading; Speech/Language disability; U.S. context



The purpose of the study was to compare scores on reading assessments using nonlinear paper-based text passages and nonlinear computerized text passages. The nonlinear text passages permitted test-takers to determine the order of text reading. The nonlinear text passages were presented on paper using an introduction, then the subtopics, with text boxes on the side of the text with the vocabulary words and definitions; the computerized format had a similar visual layout, although the vocabulary words had hyperlinks to the definitions, and the subtopics had their own web pages.


Students in grade 8 without disabilities (N=25) and with language-learning disabilities (LLD; N=14) in the metropolitan school district of Phoenix, AZ (U.S.) participated.

Dependent Variable

The researchers constructed an assessment using four reading comprehension passages and related test items at the grade 8 level, drawn from state assessments from Texas, Washington, and Florida. Two passages were used for each of the two forms of the test. Participants also completed the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals—​Fourth Edition (CELF-4) subtests on expressive and receptive language, and the Gray Oral Reading Test—Fourth Edition (GORT-4) on decoding skills, in advance of the researcher-constructed test. Participants also completed tasks from the Nonword Repetition (NWR) test and the Visual Spatial Span Board (VSSB) from the Wechsler Memory Scale—Third Edition (WMS-3). In addition to test scores, times used for reading passages and for completing test items were recorded.


Students without disabilities scored significantly higher than students with language learning disabilities (LLDs). The scores of students without disabilities were not significantly different between testing conditions. The students with LLDs experienced the same pattern—no score differences between test formats. This was an unexpected result, as it was hypothesized that the computerized format with hyperlinked vocabulary definitions would increase students' cognitive load. The researchers reviewed possible factors related to the finding, as well as the observation that students with LLDs did not often stop reading and review hyperlinked text. The mean passage-reading times and item response times across testing conditions did not differ significantly between students with and without LLDs, although students with LLDs tended to be somewhat slower. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.