Ocal, T., Durgunoglu, A., & Twite, L. (2022). Reading from screen vs reading from paper: Does it really matter ? Journal of College Reading and Learning , 52 (2), 130–148. https://doi.org/10.1080/10790195.2022.2028593
Differences in reading comprehension when text was read on a screen versus on traditional paper were examined. Specifically, whether or not comprehension of complex, academic texts at the postsecondary level differed as a function of text modality (screen versus paper) was investigated.
Sixty-nine postsecondary students at a college in the midwestern United States participated. The mean age of participants was 19.15 years old, with 42 students identifying as female and 27 as male.
Reading passages and corresponding reading multiple-choice reading comprehension questions were adapted from SAT practice tests. Two versions of the reading comprehension test were created with similar word count and difficulty. Each test consisted of two passages with 10 accompanying questions. One was administered via paper and pencil, and one was administered on a screen. Each participant took both the paper version and screen version of the test in a counterbalanced order. Students’ internal states were also assessed with the Stress, Tiredness, and Hunger test (STH), which was adapted from Wastlund et al. (2005). The STH was administered before the first test, after the first test, and after the second test. Participants’ short term memory was assessed using the Short-Term Memory Test (STMT) developed by the researchers of this study. The STMT consisted of PowerPoint slides with animal names and required participants to recall the names of animals viewed on previous PowerPoint slides. Finally, students were asked to read aloud for 1 minute and to complete the academic Reading Format Questionnaire (ARFQ), developed by Mizrachi et al. (2018), to measure oral reading ability and student reading preferences respectively.
Students’ reading comprehension abilities did not differ between test modalities (paper versus screen). However, students preferred paper-based assessments for complex reading material.