Despite the widespread move to reading online, relatively little research has been done to compare the difference in learning when reading something digitally compared to in-print. UMD researchers Lauren Singer, a doctoral candidate, and Professor Patricia Alexander cast a wide net to review studies that compared learning via digital and print reading and winnowed the field down to 36 high-quality studies that fit their inclusion criteria. They also conducted their own studies to compare learning when reading in both mediums. They found that medium plays an influential role in learning under certain text or task conditions or for certain readers.
"Our work has revealed a significant discrepancy. Students said they preferred and performed better when reading on screens. But their actual performance tended to suffer," they wrote in an article about their research, which was published in The Conversation on October 3, 2017.
Singer is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology who specializes in educational psychology. Her research interests include the nature, context, and underlying processes of text-based learning. Dr. Alexander is a professor of psychology in HDQM and her research focuses on literacy and reading comprehension, learning and academic development, critical and relational reasoning, epistemic beliefs, and expertise.