Monday, March 29, 2010

Chronicle article:

I've never personally liked the idea--nor the experience--of e-books or other forms of extended on-screen reading. Perhaps others really like it, but I don't. I figured it was some sort of repressed-Luddite character flaw in me. The headline alone of this article above made me feel just a little bit vindicated!A study at Arizona State University has found that students had lower reading comprehension of scrolling online material than they did of print-like versions.

Students Retain Information in Print-Like Formats Better
The report, "To Scroll or Not to Scroll: Scrolling, Working Memory Capacity, and Comprehending Complex Texts," described how two groups, of 20 students each, wrote essays after reading materials in either in print-like or scrolling formats. Those given the scrolling versions to read had poorer comprehension of the material.

It is harder to keep track of where information is located within an online document versus the more-apparent page markers in a print-style text, said Christopher A. Sanchez, a co-author of the study. He is an assistant professor of applied psychology at Arizona State.

But the scrolling interface of online documents had little impact on the students in the study with high working-memory capacity, or a good ability to process and retrieve information. Mr. Sanchez said such people could have more cognitive resources able to remember static locations within an online text.

More study is needed on the impact that scrolling has on learning, he said, especially given the prevalence of online tools in the classroom and in distance learning.

"What it could do is give us recognition of how to better design materials so all people learn well, so we don't have this group of low-working-memory-capacity individuals who are behind the curve and are for some reason failing to learn when this material is in this scrolling form," he said.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh, all the while I thought it was just me and my (old) age! It's a relief to learn that even young readers can struggle with comprehension when reading using the "scrolling form". I find myself re-reading whole paragraphs from online scrolling material to understand the author's message.