Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Do people read electronic text differently than hardcopy?

A new study by Amsterdam researchers concludes that hardcopy text is the superior medium for learning and digesting complicated material while electronic text is better for skimming a lot of information quickly.  The findings are included in an article called Reading and Learning From Screens Versus Print: A study in Changing Habits Part 1. Reading Long Information Rich Texts by Judith Stoop, Paulien Kreutzer, Joost G. Kircz and available in 117 New Library World 7/8 (2013).  From the abstract:

Purpose - The aim of the paper is to research the difference in reading and learning from print versus electronic media in a professional and educational setting. To what extent does the materiality of the medium influence the efficiency and effectively of the reader? What is needed to create ‘digital born’ information rich texts? In Part 1 sustained reading of information and knowledge rich texts is addressed.

Design/methodology/approach - In-depth comparative tests with a great number of subjects between print-on-paper, e-ink screens and LCD screens. In Part 1 the results of tests with sustained reading of information and knowledge rich texts are reported.

Findings - All tests show that print-on-paper is still a superior medium for learning and digesting complicated and elaborate texts, whilst electronic screens are appreciated for quick information gathering, communication and navigation. Electronic representations of information and knowledge demand that the structure of the writing has to change.

Research limitations/implications - Given the rapid development in electronic displays, many issues – in particular ergonomical – become a "moving target". An important limitation – which is one of the quests of this research - the lack of sufficient genuine digital born texts.

Practical implications - The need to start and review the writing process; the appearance but also the structure of information and knowledge rich texts. A second issue is the need to develop easy capabilities to make an electronic texts as easy a "tool" as the print text with underlining, comments and notes.

Originality/value - Deep qualitative research in comparison with quantitative tests. Comparison between professional information acquisition and learning.


| Permalink


Post a comment