Florit, E., De Carli, P., Lavelli, M., & Mason, L. (2022). Digital reading in beginner readers: Advantage or disadvantage for comprehension of narrative and informational linear texts? Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12754
Background: Text comprehension research in relation to the reading medium showed that digital-based reading represents a disadvantage compared with paper-based reading. Most paper versus screen research; however, was conducted with university students. Objectives: This study investigated the contribution of reading medium to text comprehension and medium preference in beginner readers who use technology for school learning. The moderating role of text genre, word reading and medium preference on the reading medium effect on text comprehension was also analysed. Methods: First graders (N = 115; mean age = 6;8 years) read narrative and informational linear texts on paper and computer screen and answered main idea, literal and inferential comprehension questions. Medium preference questions and a word reading task were administered. Results and Conclusions: Logistic mixed models showed that the main idea and literal comprehension of narrative and informational linear texts were greater on screen and for higher word reading skills. Inferential comprehension was lower on screen at lower levels of word reading skills but became similar for the two media as word reading increased. Children had no clear medium preference and medium effect on text comprehension was independent of children’s medium preference. The main results show that beginner readers who use technology for learning and are fast and accurate in word reading display no comprehension disadvantage in digital reading. Takeaways: Our results add to existing knowledge by clarifying how reading medium effects on beginner readers’ text comprehension interact with factors such as fundamental reading skills and experience with technology.