Digital features and their relation to children’s digital reading comprehension

One of the main distinctions between paper-based and digital reading is the presence of digital features. The latter may impair digital reading comprehension given that they promote rapid processing of information at the expense of accuracy (Delgado et al., 2018; Higgins et al., 2005; Takacs et al., 2015). The participants in this online study include ~100 Canadian children in Grades 3-5. Using a within-participants design, children will read standardized passages from the Gates- MacGinitie Reading Tests and answer multiple-choice comprehension questions. The stories include the presence of key digital features such as: scrolling, clickable hyperlinks (participant clicks on a target word which opens a new page with the word’s definition), hovering hyperlinks (definition is activated when the participant hovers over the target word), and a combination condition (scrolling and hyperlinks). Data collection is currently underway. Data will be analysed with a repeated measures one-way ANOVA with Bonferroni post-hoc tests. To date, twenty children have completed the study. Preliminary findings revealed that the presence of digital features (i.e., combination condition) increases children’s cognitive load and impedes comprehension scores relative to the linear digital condition (i.e., no digital features).The results from this study will offer new insights as to how digital features impact children’s reading comprehension in a generation that is increasingly learning to read in a digital environment.

Monday, June 20, 2022

10:05 EDT
7:05 PDT, 8:05 MDT, 11:05 ADT,
15:05 BST

Dr. Klaudia Krenca
Donald Hill Postdoctoral Fellow
Dalhousie University

Prior to being at Dalhousie, Klaudia received her PhD in the Developmental Psychology and Education program from the University of Toronto. Her dissertation examined the role of oral language in the literacy development of emerging English-French bilingual children. Klaudia joined the Language and Literacy Lab as a Donald Hill Postdoctoral Fellow in September 2020, supervised by Dr. Hélène Deacon. Klaudia’s research program investigates the assessment of children’s reading comprehension in digital environments via three projects: (1) an ongoing systematic review on children’s reading comprehension in digital versus paper environments; (2) an online study that examines which digital features enhance children’s reading comprehension; and (3) a large-scale survey that evaluates how parents support their child’s language and literacy skills at home, both when reading on paper and screens. 

Dr. Hélène Deacon
Co-Lead of Literacy / Governance: Executive Committee Member
Dalhousie University

Dr. Hélène Deacon is interested in understanding how children learn to read, specifically how they use their oral language skills to support the transition to skilled reading. Her research is conducted both here in Canada, and with collaborators around the world. As a part of the Partnership Grant team, she is expanding her research to the skills that children need to read in online contexts. She is looking forward to her role as co-director and co-lead for literacy on the SSHRC PG.

Emily Taylor
Honours Student, Neuroscience
Dalhousie University

Emily is a Neuroscience Honours student at Dalhousie University. She is currently completing her thesis under the supervision of Drs. Klaudia Krenca and Hélène Deacon in the Language and Literacy Lab. Emily’s research is focused on digital literacy. Specifically investigating the effect that digital features have on children’s reading comprehension. Emily hopes that this research will be beneficial to educators and literacy learners as online learning and digital reading become more prominent.