Digital text comprehension in deaf students and students with specific language impairment

Digital text comprehension in deaf students and students with specific language impairment

First Author: Helen Blom -- BSI Nijmegen
Additional authors/chairs: 
Harry Knoors; Eliane Segers; Daan Hermans; Ludo Verhoeven
Keywords: Hypertext reading, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Language impairment, Reading comprehension, Multimedia learning
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose. We investigated how reading comprehension of hierarchical hypertexts differs from linear digital texts within deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) students and students with specific language impairment (SLI), compared to students without hearing or language problems (ND). Hereby, the individual variation within these groups has been investigated as well. As D/HH and SLI students are lagging behind typically developing children in regular text reading and have poorer working memory, the characteristics of hypertexts may cause additional problems in reading comprehension of those students.
Method. 77 ND students from 5th grade, 55 undergraduate ND students, 30 undergraduate SLI students and 30 undergraduate D/HH students read 2 hierarchical hypertexts and 2 linear texts. For each text, they answered 10 MC questions and drew a text-related concept map. Furthermore, decoding, vocabulary, working memory and nonverbal reasoning skills were measured for each student.
Results. Repeated Measures ANOVA revealed equal reading comprehension of hypertexts and linear texts in all groups, thereby replicating previous research in ND children. SLI students performed equal to the 5th grade ND group, while D/HH students performed equal to the undergraduate ND students. Regression analyses showed vocabulary to strongly predict reading comprehension, while the other variables did not add to the effect.
Conclusions. It can be concluded that SLI and D/HH students do not show more comprehension difficulties of hypertexts compared to linear texts than ND students, and that hierarchical hypertexts do not cause reading comprehension problems for children/adolescents.