Edited by Mirit Barzillai, Jenny Thomson, Sascha Schroeder and Paul van den Broek
[Studies in Written Language and Literacy 17] 2018
► pp. 57–90
Chapter 3. Cognitive processes and digital reading
Regardless of the medium, reading is a complex skill involving the execution and coordination of many cognitive processes. Reading comprehension in skilled readers is the end-product of processes that are fast, efficient, interactive and strategic. These processes, some of which may be described as lower level (e.g. word recognition) and some as higher level (e.g. inference-making), rely on aspects of executive function including attention, working memory, executive control and metacognition. This chapter examines the involvement of these four aspects in both print and digital reading. We explore how on-screen reading of linear and non-linear text (hypertext) makes additional demands on executive function, potentially threatening comprehension and learning. We also consider how technology may confer processing advantages for readers with particular difficulties. Recommendations aimed at preventing shallow processing when engaging with digital text are presented. Having reviewed the literature, we speculate on how the potential of technology may be harnessed in order to encourage reading, to improve assessment, and to increase knowledge.