If you want to make sure that you understand this story as fully as possible, you might consider printing the article and reading it on paper. That is one of the findings of a recent study of research done on the differences between paper and screen reading.

Virginia Clinton carried out the research examination. She is a professor of Education, Health and Behavior at the University of North Dakota. She found what she called a “small but significant” difference in reading text from screen versus paper.

Researchers have been investigating for years the ways in which screens affect the quality of a person’s reading. The magazine Scientific American reported that at least 100 studies have been published on the issue since the 1980s.

Clinton’s examination found that reading from paper generally led to better understanding and improved a person’s performance on tests connected to the reading material. And, she found no major differences in reading speed between the two. In other words, paper reading was found to be more efficient.

Clinton also found that paper readers usually have a higher recognition of how well they have understood a text than screen readers. She said, “We think that we’re reading the story or the book better than we actually are. We think we understand what we are reading better than how we are actually reading.”

Yet, this inflated sense of understanding, or overconfidence, is especially common among screen readers.

Clinton said there are many possible reasons for such findings. Overconfidence of screen readers, for example, could be the result of a distracted, less focused mind.

Reader preference is also important, she said. Research shows the majority of people -- of all ages -- prefer reading from paper. But, if someone prefers screen reading to paper reading, that person’s understanding of the material is not likely to suffer.

Clinton said, “If you are enjoying the reading process, you’re going to be more involved. You’re going to be paying better attention. Preferences are a key issue here.”

Although her findings may support paper reading over screen reading, Clinton says she does not believe screen reading should be avoided.

Clinton’s findings were published earlier this year in the Journal of Research in Reading. She also presented her results this month at the American Educational Research Association’s yearly meeting, held in Toronto, Canada.

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

significant - adj. large enough to be noticed or have an effect

  • He won a significant amount of money.

efficient - adj. capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy

  • With age, your kidneys become less efficient in removing waste from your body.

distracted - adj. unable to think about or pay attention to something : unable to concentrate

  • Charlotte seemed too distracted at the meeting.

focused - adj. giving attention and effort to a specific task or goal

  • They are making a focused effort to win support for the proposal.

preference - n. a feeling of liking or wanting one person or thing more than another person or thing

  • Car buyers have recently shown a strong preference for smaller vehicles.


Exercise 2 


Answer these questions about the article.

1. Who is Virginia Clinton?

2. How many studies have been done on this issue since the 1980s?

3. According to Clinton's research, is there a difference in reading speed between screen and paper reading?

4. Does Clinton believe that screen reading should be avoided?


Exercise 3

Fill in the blanks

Fill in the blanks with the correct word listed below.

significant, efficient, distracted, focused, preference

1. The more information the system has, the more _____ it will be.

2. If you're feeling _____, take a break.

3. She's a very _____ and determined young woman.

4. When it comes to music, everyone has their own _______.

5. There is a ______ difference in prices between the two stores.


Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions.

1. Are you surprised to see that screen reading may be less efficient than paper reading?

2. Which do you prefer - reading from paper or screen reading?

3. How often do you read?

4. Why is reading important?


This lesson is based on a news article originally published by VOA.