A recent meta-analysis showed that paper-based reading yields better outcomes in reading comprehension than digital reading. In an article appearing in Educational Research Review, Pablo Delgato and colleagues from Spain and Israel analyzed 54 studies from 2000-2017 comparing the reading comprehension outcomes of comparable paper and digital texts. They examined if one medium has an advantage over the other for reading outcomes, and what factors contribute to any differences found.
Results showed that:
- Paper text has an advantage over digital text (ES=+0.21).
- Influencing factors favoring paper text include reading under time limitations, text type (informational or informational plus narrative), and publication year—later publications showed increased advantages for paper reading than earlier publications.
While the authors do not advocate getting rid of digital texts given their convenience, cost advantages, and pervasiveness, they reflect that these study findings should be considered when students are required to perform digitally-related tasks under time constraints.
Source: Delgado, P., Vargas, C., Ackerman, R., & Salmerón, L. (2018). Don’t throw away your printed books: A meta-analysis on the effects of reading media on reading comprehension. Educational Research Review, 25, 23–38.