Reading in an online hypertext environment: A case study of tenth-grade English students
Jennifer S. Dail, The Florida State University, United States
The Florida State University . Awarded
Computers and access to the Internet and the hypertext documents it contains illustrate a prevalent means through which technology has infiltrated classrooms. Consequently, more students turn to the Internet for information and more teachers create assignments that require students to access the Internet. The emergence of computers in this manner has created new literacy demands.
In this study, a tenth-grade English language arts class was observed to identify the following: (1) the environment of a tenth-grade classroom using computers regularly, and (2) the processes tenth-grade students use when reading online hypertext. Existing research regarding literacy and reading comprehension was examined to then create a foundation for examining the role of computers and hypertext in literacy activities. This framework was used as a lens through which to view the activities in the classroom in which the research was conducted. This study employed a variety of methods in identifying the two key issues. The methods utilized in this study included the analysis of observational field notes, attitudinal surveys, transcribed video tapes of think aloud protocols, cookie files, and student responses to reading comprehension questions. Cookie files tracked students' movements throughout the hypertext and reading comprehension questions identified their understanding of the hypertext. Think-aloud protocols and follow-up interviews with selected students further illuminated the reading processes these students employed while interacting with the hypertext document.
This study found that in a classroom environment where computers are an ongoing component of instruction there exists a social dimension to working in that context. Other components of this classroom environment found through the study included students searching for information via the Internet and using the computer for a variety of purposes. This study also found that students utilize a variety of strategies when reading hypertext via the Internet, including: scrolling the document, skimming the text, note-taking by hand, summarizing information, and relying on prior knowledge. Despite employing traditional reading strategies, students scored low on the comprehension questions assessing their understanding of the hypertext. The findings of this study indicated that students need direct instruction in the applying reading strategies in this new literacy context.
Dail, J.S. Reading in an online hypertext environment: A case study of tenth-grade English students. Ph.D. thesis, The Florida State University.
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