The Relation Between Text Medium and Critical Reading Scores (2012)

Troy Mott, Christina Frederick*, Sierra Nevada College

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Abstract: Post-secondary educational institutions have incorporated tablets in the educational curriculum (Woodford, 2001). To investigate how reading medium impacts critical reading ability, I performed two studies. In the first study, participants read an SAT practice test passage (Mathur, 2012) from either paper or an iPad 2 tablet. The identical passages were 949 words. Once the reading was complete, participants responded to 12 critical reading assessment questions about the passage. 116 participants completed the critical reading assessment study. A second study, a self-response survey, which examined the reading preferences and demographics (gender and age) of 115 participants was also conducted. A two-way ANOVA was used to analyze the results of the critical reading comprehension test. No significant difference was found between critical reading comprehension scores between mediums and academic standing (p = .911). The self-response survey was assessed using a chi-square analysis. There was no significant difference in preference between upper and lower division undergraduates (p = .157). Females showed a stronger preference for reading from paper than males (p = .045), and a significant preference was found among the total sample population for reading from paper over other surveyed forms of media (p < 0.001). The implications of this study are relevant to the future of education and sustainability efforts in the classroom.

Introduction Does reading medium affect critical reading ability when an individual reads from screen vs. from paper? iPads, iPad 2, and other tablet computers are popular. Apple released the iPad April 3, 2010. Within 80 days of the release 300,000 units had been sold. Apple sold 32 million iPads in the 2011 fiscal year (Lowensohn, 2011). There has also been a push to integrate tablet technology into the classroom (Woodford, 2011). Tablet computers moving into the classroom setting is a natural progression, especially considering the widespread use of laptop computers and cell phones in today’s society. Personal computers are already prevalent in Universities with 97.5 percent of university students reporting they own a personal laptop (Kaplan, 2011). Class technology, such as Classroom Presenter, has been shown to increase classroom participation and focus (Koile & Singer, 2006). In August 2011, Yale school of medicine gave 520 students an iPad 2 in an effort to save money by cutting down on paper, books, and issues transporting information (Woodford, 2011). Because they are a relatively new technology, little research has been conducted into critical reading ability on these devices and the movement of the tablet into the classroom.

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