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Metacognitive Evidences Between E-Book and Printed Book Reading Formats

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Metacognitive Evidences between E-Book and Printed Book Reading Formats

Research Paper

Hope Graves- Kinsey

Cognitive Psychology

Psych 420B 15-22


With the widespread use of e-books in the recent, several experiments, quantitative or qualitative, were conducted to compare differences between electronic and printed books reading formats. As most studies in the present have not found significant evidences that deviates the reading platforms as to its cognitive efficiency, this paper proposes that the metacognitive strategies and experiences of participants be used to identify these notable differences. Eight studies were analyzed as to the behavioral accounts observed by the researchers from their studies in this reading media. These observations were used to identify metacognitive differences.  

Metacognitive Evidences between E-Book and Printed Book Reading Formats

It has already been a decade since the popularization of electronic book reading began as a result of widespread use of internet (Cristina, et al., 2015). Since then, numerous studies have been conducted to compare its efficiency, especially in terms of cognitive processes, against traditional reading formats. In 2011, Siegenthaler, et al. studied reading processes between electronic ink displays and printed text reading. Two years after, Ofra, et al. (2013) compared the development of language among children between e-book and printed books. Still on the same year, Mangen, et al. (2013) conducted a study to analyze reading comprehension. In 2014, Tsung & Yueh-Min observed reading rate patterns and retrieval outcomes among elementary students.  Interestingly, the studies have offered different preferences between the reading formats. While Mangen, et al. (2013) found better reading comprehension through printed formats, Tsung & Yueh-Min (2014) maintained that e-books be promoted instead. On other hand, Seigenthaler, et al. (2011) and Oftra, et al, (2013) remained non-partisan.

Although most of these studies are concerned with the possibility of cognitive differences between the two formats, for Ackerman & Goldsmith (2011) the deviation cannot be observed in terms of how the individuals think and learn in the reading process – it was on how the readers strategize their learning experiences of which they referred as ‘metacognition’. Please note that metacognition in this context is also a cognitive process, yet the researchers would wanted to emphasize a more strategically- based component rather than a deep internal mental process. Ackerman & Goldsmith’s (2011) results were also supported with a qualitative analysis conducted by Berg, et al. (2012). In their study, the participants were observed on how they use either e-book or printed book formats for information searching of some questions given. At the end of the study, the recognition of the students’ strategy becomes the foreground of the themes gathered hence, a more metacognitive application.

Using the evidences from Ackerman & Goldsmith (2011) and Berg, et al. (2012), one can realize that their contributions have not been that much materialized until the present. The number of researches on the differences between the two formats are still on the drill regardless of the several evidences suggesting that no difference can be recognized (in terms of cognitive processes) (Siegenthaler, et al 2011; Zambarbieri, & Carniglia, 2012; & Ofra, et al, 2013).

        So in general, it is absolutely incorrect to say that one reading format is better than the other based from the various results that studies have found. However, if the experiments done by these studies gathered for this paper were analyzed thoroughly, one may be able to see how learner’s strategies vary within the observations (regardless of whatever cognitive tasks they are inclined). Hence, this paper would instead try to explore how these subtle reading behaviors found would be useful in arguing that metacognition and not internal cognitive processes that tips the balance. It is good to note that almost all of these studies have also extensively described such metacognitive behaviors gathered from their participants. This would truly be significant with the aims of the current paper.

        For this to materialize, the studies presented after this section would cover eight experiments (some were already stated) emphasizing the differences of cognitive processes (and other studies highly related to this aspect) between electronic and printed reading books format. However as stated, the observations of these researchers among their participants’ learning strategies would be highlighted instead of the goals of their study. This is to collate and synthesize evidences on the occurrence of metacognitive strategies that is assumed to cause the differences between electronic and printed book formats. However, it must be noted that this paper does not show preference with either of the two reading formats. This is only to show evidences that such metacognitive reading strategies exist in these reading tasks. Still, this current paper feels that such occurrence of strategies (and personal experiences) should be looked forward with in the future studies differentiating electronic and traditional reading platforms. This paper begins with Ackerman & Goldsmith’s study.

In 2011, Ackerman & Goldsmith’s suggested that metacognitive approaches of the readers (subjective) are the ones that should be observed in comparing e-books and printed books formats. In their study, participants were asked to read an expository text either through computer screens or from printed pages in two settings. The first setting was timed; the second is up to the participant to divide between the texts to read. Each reading was then followed up with an assessment of predicted test performance. This test aims to see whether the efficiency of coding task (memory retrieval- cognitive) is accurate to the predicted results of the participants. Thus, the students will be asked to answer some comprehension items. At the end of the study, one of the findings observed was that the predicted test performance of students under the second setting (self-regulated time) accounts for significantly lesser accuracy of prediction of the encoding efficiency task and that students were more erratic in study. This was contrasted with the first setting with which time was controlled and that no significant differences were found. It was suggested that as students can regulate their time, this can influence the participants’ reading speed, attention, fatigue and other factors (Ackerman & Goldsmith, 2011). This freedom of time, for the researchers, implies that it is not the ‘cognitive’ but rather the metacognitive that shows differences between on-screen and printed reading.



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