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Media multitasking, attention, and comprehension: a deep investigation into fragmented reading

Abstract

As students are processing information from digital media and educational materials, they are increasingly being interrupted by competing media and their surroundings. This trend of increased interruptions suggests the continuous increase of instances of fragmented reading in learning settings for the younger generation of students. This study investigated learning in situations where information and the processing of information were either fragmented or congruous. In this study, information (congruous and fragmented) and information processing (congruous and fragmented) were examined using a 2 × 2 design on reading materials. Four classes totaling 129 students participated in the study. The effects of these two factors on reading skills (including reading attention and comprehension), perceived reading motivation, persistence, and attitude of primary school students were investigated. The findings showed four effects. (1) Significant differences in the reading comprehension and attention scores of the four student groups; (2) significant influence of reading processing (congruous vs. fragmented) on reading comprehension results; (3) an interaction between genders and reading conditions, that is, girls exhibited higher reading attention than boys when using fragmented reading materials; and (4) a relationship among different levels of reading engagement and reading skills, that is, readers with medium-level reading engagement gained high reading scores regardless of their reading conditions. Fragmented information and fragmented information processing are increasingly common in and out of classroom. The results of this study may help in the design of instruction, instructional activities, and instructional support, especially amid the expansion of ICT in various educational contexts.

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Acknowledgements

This study is sponsored by Peak Discipline Construction Project of Education at East China Normal University.

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Correspondence to Xiaoqing Gu.

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Liu, Y., Gu, X. Media multitasking, attention, and comprehension: a deep investigation into fragmented reading. Education Tech Research Dev 68, 67–87 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-019-09667-2

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Keywords

  • Fragmented reading
  • Fragmented information processing
  • Multitasking
  • Reading skill
  • Comprehension
  • Attention