Digital natives with reading difficulties: A study of dyslectic adolescents' integration of conflicting information across Internet sites and presentation formats
In this phd project I want to advance current scientific knowledge about dyslectic adolescents’ use of the Internet in their academic learning activities. I want to achieve this by obtaining detailed knowledge of the processing challenges dyslectic adolescents experience when working with multimodal information on the Internet.
About the Project
The main purpose of this project is to find out how dyslectic students integrate information found across presentation formats and Internet sites to construct a coherent representation about the issue in question. Further, the project will examine to what extent individual difference variables could predict processing differences among these students.
The overarching research question is «To what extent are there differences in how dyslectic and non-dyslectic students process information when reading about conflicting social-scientific issues on the Internet and which individual difference factors may predict such differences?». This research question will be examined through 3 sub studies, each with their own research questions.
To examine the research questions, I plan to conduct a study where approximately 45-60 students read Internet sites about sun exposure and health. The study will comprise three different groups of readers:
a) 15-20 non-dyslectic students
b) 15-20 students with dyslexia who despite their basic reading difficulties do well in school, and
c) 15-20 students with dyslexia showing more profound academic difficulties.
To assess participants’ actual processing of the information on the sites, I will use a combination of different processing measures, specifically, eye-tracking, navigation data, cued retrospective reporting (i.e., using eye-movement recording as a cue for verbal reports), and self-reports of the cognitive load of the task. In addition, the following individual difference variables will be assessed: decoding skills, prior topic knowledge, topic specific reading motivation, task specific situational interest, task specific measure of strategic processing of information on the Internet sites, and working memory. I will also collect relevant background information such as amount of remedial reading instruction and use of Internet in school related activities and spare time.
The 3 sub studies:
- To what extent are there differences in how dyslectic and non-dyslectic students process information when reading about conflicting social-scientific issues on the Internet?
This study will comprise all participants in the three groups. Our main hypothesis is that processing time spent on visual and textual information, respectively, will vary according to group membership. I particularly expect that the two groups of dyslectic students will spend more time processing visual representations and less time processing text information on the sites compared to the group of non-dyslectic readers.
- To what extent does strategic processing, reading motivation and prior knowledge predict dyslectic adolescents’ comprehension of Internet sites about conflicting social-scientific issues?
This study will comprise only the two groups of dyslectic readers. I expect that high achieving dyslectic students, at least to some degree, can compensate for processing difficulties due to low decoding skills by proficient use of comprehension strategies and by being more motivated for the task.
- To what extent does working memory capacity and decoding skills moderate cognitive load when dyslectic adolescents read conflicting social-scientific issues on the Internet?
This study will also comprise the two groups of dyslectic readers, only. I expect the measured individual difference variables to play important roles in students’ digital reading comprehension, particularly in explaining differences between the two groups of dyslectic readers.