New Study: Online Learning Could Build Better Reading Skills

Barry Lenson

New Study: Online Learning Could Build Better Reading Skills

Build Better Reading SkillsThis year's National Survey of Student Engagement (published annually by Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research) is a big document to read. It’s packed with 50 pages of data about learning styles and practices. The study reports, for example, that engineering majors take more time preparing for classes than do students who are pursuing any other major. Or that only 70% of students ask for help when they don’t understand course material.

We spent some time perusing all that information and found, on page 17, one really interesting finding . . .

Students who take courses online seem to develop better reading skills than students who take all their courses in classroom settings.

To quote from the report . . .

“Interestingly, reading comprehension strategies differed depending on the type of course. Students enrolled in online courses appeared to use certain reading strategies more frequently than students in traditional classroom settings . . . In the first year, online students were more likely to identify key information in readings and create visual representations of reading content. Senior online students were more likely to summarize readings, read difficult material more than once, and skim for organization. Both first-year and senior online students were more likely to connect readings to course objectives, suggesting that online students may have more awareness of course objectives in general, perhaps due to greater reliance on the syllabus or a constant presence on course management systems.”

But why could online courses make for better readers? The report suggests, “These differences may be due to the online medium, which requires more independent learning, and the fact that reading assignments are often given in lieu of lectures or other real-time in-class activities.”

Now, that’s interesting. It could be just one more reason why online students should take pride in learning the way they do – and hold their heads high.

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