The effect of modality on assessment of reading comprehension

The effect of modality on assessment of reading comprehension

First Author: Marta Wesierska -- University of York
Additional authors/chairs: 
Jenny Thomson
Keywords: Reading comprehension, Primary education, Digital literacy
Abstract / Summary: 

Reading comprehension in a time-constrained context can be less effective on digital devices as compared to print (Salmeron et al., in press). Research has also found that this screen inferiority can be counteracted through the application of strategies (Sidi et al., 2017). This study aimed to examine screen inferiority effects in a sample of primary school age children and to explore the effectiveness of meta-cognitive reading comprehension strategies.

Thirty typically developing, Year 3 monolingual children without reading difficulties took part in this study. Children were given a test of oral language, decoding, two assessments of reading comprehension and higher level comprehension skills (inference making and comprehension monitoring) and a computer use questionnaire. Each child was seen individually in two sessions.

There were no significant differences between modalities on either reading task. The study did, however, show an effect of intervention on the reading comprehension task. There was a statistically significant difference between inference questions between the two sessions with participants scoring higher in Session 2. There was no significant difference between sessions on literal questions.

Our findings showed no significant differences between comprehension on paper and screen in a group of primary school children. However, an intervention requiring answering a question immediately after reading a portion of the text did improve performance. It is possible that lack of time pressure was responsible for the null effect. Therefore, the next step in this project will be to collect more data with more explicit time constraints instructions.