Reading in the digital age: a resource for students

Researcher: Helen Hargreaves

Institution: Lancaster University

Research Year: 2021

Project aims:

Our initial project (funded by ALDinHE in 2019) explored students’ perceptions and practices about reading academic texts electronically, to find out about how they navigate the challenges associated with this format and the reading strategies they employ. Our aims were (1) to consider how students’ approaches to reading digital texts compared with those discussed in study guides and (2) to draw conclusions about how our findings might inform our work as learning developers, in our teaching and conversations with students on this topic.

Data was collected via six focus groups with a total of 20 undergraduate students in their second and final year from a range of academic disciplines. Topics discussed included: reading preferences; the joys and frustrations of reading texts digitally; reading and note-taking strategies; and support with academic reading. Students’ reflections on their approaches and attitudes towards digital reading have provided us with insights that have implications for different groups: publishers, academic staff, authors of study guides, learning developers, and of course students themselves. In extending the project, we want to use these insights to inform the development of a resource to form the basis of discussions with new students about academic reading, as well as serving as a stand-alone resource. We would produce an interactive resource (using either Xerte or Articulate), with the help of a digital intern. The resource would encourage students to take a reflective approach about choices related to text format; provide activities for exploring diverse types of digital text; and look at approaches, tools, and techniques for reading and note-taking in the digital age.