Last year’s release of the 2018 PISA text results continue to be pored over by educational commentators. In this blog post, Daisy Christodoulou examines what the results tell us about whether reading on a screen versus reading on paper makes a difference. She found that the PISA results indicate that students do less well in online assessments (when compared to paper-based tests) and she draws our attention to other evidence that indicates that when we read on a screen we skim read more and find it harder to orient ourselves within the text.
If reading on a screen is more difficult but this is the reality for much of modern reading what should schools be doing about it? The author argues that this should not trigger a knee-jerk move to increase the amount of online reading in a school context and she points out that many of the highest performing countries in the PISA reading assessments are also the same places where the average amount of time spent on online is lowest. She also acknowledges that further research is needed in this area and points to possible routes that may make on-screen reading more productive.