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Screens Versus Paper: Is Technology Hurting Reading Comprehension?

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Grade Level: Sixth, Seventh, Eighth Type: Social Science Objective: This experiment will evaluate whether comprehension is better when reading written material on paper versus a screen. Research Questions: Is it easier to retain information when reading from paper versus a screen? Introduction: As technology advances, there has been a shift in how people obtain information. People used to exclusively obtain information by reading from paper, but now consumers also peruse internet articles on cell phone screens or computer monitors and purchase books using e-readers. This experiment will evaluate whether or not these new electronic formats help or hurt our reading comprehension. Materials: Test subjects A hard cover or paperback book The same book in an e-book format Computer Printer Experimental Procedure: Create a test to give to participants based on one chapter in the book you selected. Ask questions about very specific information within the book chapter. Find approximately 60 adult test subjects with similar educational backgrounds that have not read the book that you selected. Ask 20 of your test subjects to read the selected chapter from the paper format of the book and to complete your test when they are done. Ask 20 different test subjects to read the same chapter from an e-reader (eg, a Nook or Kindle) and to complete your test when they are done. Ask 20 different test subjects to read the same chapter from a computer monitor and to complete the test. Score the tests and average the results within each group. Overall, which group performed best on the reading test? Does it appear that reading comprehension differs among the different mediums used to acquire written information? Concepts: reading comprehension  

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