“What’s your best digital reading format?” Do you prefer Arial font with 15 point size and wide character spacing, or Helvetica font with 20 point size and traditional spacing?”
Have you ever even thought about which digital format works best for you while reading on a device? Maybe you already adjust your screen away from the default text or you have used the pinch and zoom feature to adjust text size. The ability to quickly and easily change your font size and spacing can result in instantaneous improvement in reading speed and comprehension.
Many of these adjustable features and tools are not yet available for young students. ReadWorks is leading the charge to provide access to digital format options for K-12 students on all of our high-quality passages. Tailoring education to individual needs is not new– some students need glasses and some need to sit closer to the front of the room in order to learn and perform better. Differentiating to meet students’ needs looks different, however, in the age of digital learning, finding solutions is a deep focus at ReadWorks.
“We feel privileged to be part of the research team investigating how the visual features of typography affect reading fluency and comprehension by having a variety of digital formats implemented on the ReadWorks platform. Much of this work has already been implemented for college and adult students, and now we are able to be leaders for K-12 students,” said ReadWorks Chief Academic Officer, Susanne Nobles, Ph.D.
So, how do we know that reading format can help students with reading comprehension? In a first-of-its-kind research study conducted by ReadWorks, Chapman University, The Royal Danish Academy, and Readability Matters, students showed an average increase of 20% in comprehension based on a change to the reading format, which can translate to an increase in up to two letter-grades for students. And for those most impacted by text format, the percentages gained were even higher. Source
We are continuing to dig into these exciting early findings. As part of a research study with the University of Oregon, Readability Matters and the iDEAL Institute at Loyola Marymount University, students on ReadWorks will use a new assessment tool to determine their best reading format. Student’s best-performing reading format will be provided to them while on ReadWorks without any additional burden for teachers to manage.
The outcomes of this research can significantly inform Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines and best practices for how edtech organizations create and deliver tech-enabled resources and tools. With a vast educator base, ReadWorks is in a uniquely advantageous position to quickly roll-out new features to support millions of students and help lift the barrier to high-quality, research-based tools and resources that improve reading comprehension. Digital text formats are an important new avenue to continue to differentiate and personalize learning needs. Rather than using tools that work better for many students, we can implement tools that work best for each student.
Melissa Calder, Director of Marketing and Engagement
Susanne Nobles, Ph.D., Chief Academic Officer