SRCD 2019 Biennial Conference
March 21-23, 2019
Title: Factors Influencing Students’ Preferences for Reading Digitally (Poster)
Session: Education, Schooling
Authors: Joanna Yau, Ying Xu, Yenda Prado, Penelope Collins, Mark Warschauer
Abstract: Today’s youth are often referred to as digital natives (Prensky, 2001). This may suggest that students are more engaged when working with technology than with traditional print materials. Studies have documented numerous advantages of using technology in schools such as increased opportunities for individualized learning (Haelermans & Ghysels, 2017) and collaboration (Al-Samarraie & Saeed, 2018), leading to the proliferation of 1:1 device programs. Nevertheless, it is important to question whether all adolescents prefer learning with digital materials. In this poster, we examine, in the context of a large scale technology intervention in English Language Arts (ELA), students’ preferences for reading digitally. We examine both student and teacher factors that may affect students’ preferences.
The intervention, which examined the effect of a cascading text format that highlights syntactic structures on literacy outcomes, was implemented at ten intermediate schools (grades 7-8) in a linguistically diverse district. Each teacher received a cart of Chromebooks or iPads for their students to access the text. For this poster, we focus on students’ preferences for reading on the devices. At the end of the year, students indicated on a survey their preference for reading on a device and for the cascading text formatting (1= I don’t like it at all, 4= I like it a lot) and explained their choices. Teachers indicated their efficacy for using technology in the classroom (Schmidt et al., 2009). Teachers were surveyed weekly on whether they used the intervention materials digitally. Scores on the state assessment in ELA (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium; SBAC) were obtained from the district.
On average, participants enjoyed reading digitally (M = 2.93, SD = .74). Over three-fourths of participants reported that they liked reading on the devices (57%) or that they liked it a lot (20%); however, preferences for reading digitally varied by SBAC performance, F(3, 3228) = 10.86, p < .001. Post hoc two-tailed pairwise comparisons using Tukey’s method revealed significant differences across SBAC levels at the p < .05 level (see Table 1). For example, a higher performing student described reading digitally as “annoying” because he/she had to “keep scrolling” when it was “easier to just flip a page,” while a lower performing student described it as “fun.” After controlling for students’ preference of the cascading text, students who scored lower on the previous year’s SBAC still reported a higher preference for reading digitally (see Table 2). The use of digital devices, but not teachers’ efficacy, was associated with students’ preferences.
While the majority of adolescents enjoyed reading digitally, nearly a quarter did not. Perhaps the affordances of digital texts make reading more accessible to lower performing students by providing scaffolding (e.g., adjusting font size). Alternatively, higher performing students who are comfortable reading from print, may feel that it requires more effort to adjust to a new medium. The need for an adjustment period may explain why greater use of the devices was associated with higher liking. Design implications based on the responses of students who did not prefer reading digitally will be discussed.