A study published in the American Educational Research Journal compares reading processes and outcomes for students when reading a text from paper with the same text delivered on a touchscreen laptop.
Amanda P. Goodwin and colleagues conducted the study with 371 students in grades 5-8 from three schools in an urban district in the southeastern U.S. Students were randomly assigned to two conditions: Condition A read the first section of a text on paper, and the second half digitally, whereas students in Condition B read the first part digitally and the second part on paper. The content in both conditions was identical. When reading on paper, students had access to highlighters, pens, and sticky notes; when reading digitally, they had access to digital highlighters, annotating, and dictionaries.
Results suggest that students highlight and annotate more when reading on paper vs. digital text. Also, reading on paper vs. digitally was slightly supportive of reading comprehension for the longer sections of text, although effect sizes were very small (odds ratio of 1.077).
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