Printed vs digital text: A meta-analysis (Best Evidence in Brief)

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief with some interesting studies. And this time it has a new review that I will quote almost weekly, as it’s about a question I very often get: what is best for learning: print or digital. Answer is again: print.

A recent meta-analysis in The Journal of Research on Reading has synthesized the findings of studies comparing print and digital text regarding time required to read, reading comprehension, and readers’ perceptions of their comprehension. Researcher Virginia Clinton performed a systematic literature review, only including studies using random assignment and that were published between 2008 and 2018, yielding 29 reports of 33 studies for analysis. She found that readers require equal amounts of time to read print and digital text, although screen reading negatively impacted reading comprehension (ES= -0.25). Readers were more accurately able to judge their comprehension on paper (ES= +0.20) than on screen.
The negative effect on performance for reading text from screens rather than paper did not vary for readers who were adults or children (under 18). However, the author suggests this finding should be interpreted with caution because there were more studies with adult participants (26) than child participants (7).
Best Evidence in Brief reported on an earlier meta-analysis solely examining reading comprehension, whose results also favored printed text.

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