Digital Highlighting and Annotating as Formative Assessment: Paths to Technology-Enabled Reading Comprehension

Cohen, Jonathan, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Bull, Glen, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Reading comprehension is an essential skill for students to develop in order to become productive members of society. It is a skill that can be learned, and a number of interventions and instruction types have been developed over the years to help students do so. One limitation of many of these interventions is that they require students to be interrupted during the reading process, whether to participate in the intervention itself, or so that the instructor/researcher can deliver a formative assessment. Such interruptions into the reading process can have a deleterious impact on the comprehension it is meant to address.

The current research reports on the results of an investigation into the relationship between the types and patterns of annotations students make in a digital text and the students’ comprehension of the text. To capture the students’ annotations, a digital e-reader was developed that allows students the ability to both highlight and leave textual comments on the text. These annotations are minimally intrusive activities, unlike many other reading comprehension interventions.

A sample of seventh grade students, N = 250, read a short story using the e-reader, then took a posttest measuring their comprehension of the story. An neural network analysis was employed to examine the nature of the relationships between the highlights and annotations and comprehension of the text. Results indicated that a pattern is evident, particularly when the type of highlights are examined. Further, data suggested that the presence of certain types of inferences are more closely associated with stronger comprehension.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
reading comprehension, technology, inferences, neural network
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