Most educators would agree that reading is a fundamentally important skill, but while some argue the case for digitization of textbooks and course materials, it seems that many countries still need to do more to help prepare students to learn from non-printed texts.
Digital reading is characterized by the readers’ ability to determine the structure of what they read rather than follow the pre-established order of text as presented in a book. It isn’t really surprising that in most countries and languages, a student’s ability to gather and process information from reading printed texts is closely related to how proficient they are in reading digital material.
Traditionally, girls outperform boys by a full school year in comparative reading tests based on printed texts (with the exceptions of Israel and Peru), and according to a report from PISA published last week a similar pattern is observed in digital reading but the gap is significantly narrower. In fact when comparing groups of boys and girls with similar print reading abilities, boys have the advantage on navigating and learning from digital sources.
The positive news from this is that we have an opportunity to exploit boys’ confidence and proficiency at reading digitally to encourage more frequent reading for both learning and for pleasure, a key to improved school performance that has been in steady decline internationally for the last decade.
For those students that are not adapting as quickly, we need to be aware of the difficulties that they are experiencing rather than assuming they ‘get it’ intuitively. Generally the areas for improvement that were identified as making the most difference to 15-year old students included:
- how to evaluate what they read, to identify and challenge inaccurate information
- how to sift through multiple sources and types of information on a given topic
- understanding the nature of navigation as well as how to navigate the results of a web search
- how to distinguish between drawing appropriately from online sources and plagiarism
The DISCOVER Approach
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