Ben-Yehudah, G., & Brann, A. (2019). Pay attention to digital text: The impact of the media on text comprehension and self-monitoring in higher-education students with ADHD . Research in Developmental Disabilities , 89 , 120–129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2019.04.001
The presentation of digital media was compared with print media in terms of reading comprehension performance and the application of self-regulation of learning (SRL) for postsecondary students with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Postsecondary students (n=106) who were native Hebrew speakers at a university in Israel participated, including students with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; n=45) and students without identified disabilities (n=61). Inclusion criteria were: no diagnosis of a reading disability, normal or corrected vision, and Hebrew as a native language. The Conjunctive Continuous Performance Task (CCPT, Shalev et al., 2011), checking for sustained attention, and a visual task measuring abilities to shift mental sets during cognitive processing (Meiran, 1996) were both used as screening tools. In addition, to screen out participants with co-occurring reading disabilities (specifically developmental dyslexia), potential participants completed the Adult Reading Questionnaire (ARQ; Snowling et al., 2012) which had been previously translated into Hebrew and validated in a previous study (Ben-Yehudah & Gilutz, 2018). The screening tools resulted in excluding 40 potential study participants—22 students wtih ADHD and 18 students without disabilities—with significantly slower reaction times.
The reading task incorporating a reading passage on a topic of general interest was developed by researchers, along with a 10-item multiple-choice reading comprehension test addressing detail recall and inferential skills. The reading passage was composed of a 1,200-word essay with three colored pictures. Participants were also asked to predict their performance score—a self-monitoring check that is a component of self-regulation of learning (SRL). Comparable groups of students with ADHD were assigned to only one test condition each, as were the participants without disabilities. The print media condition was completed by 24 students with ADHD and 35 students without ADHD; the digital media condition was completed by 21 students with ADHD and 26 students without ADHD.
Postsecondary participants with ADHD had a significantly lower mean reading comprehension score than participants without ADHD when the reading passage was presented in the digital condition. Additionally, students with ADHD were overconfident in their predictions of performance compared to the participants without ADHD. In contrast, in the print condition, students with and without ADHD had no significant differences in reading comprehension scores and predictions of performance. Students with ADHD spent more time reading the print text than did the students without ADHD, and more time reading the print text than the digital text. The researchers noted that students with ADHD had better self-monitoring in the print condition. In both digital and print conditions, poor sustained attention to the material was correlated with lower reading comprehension scores. Researchers concluded that digitally displayed text is more challenging for students with ADHD to understand than their peers, particularly when the comprehension tasks involve strong SRL skills.