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Image–language interaction in online reading environments: challenges for students’ reading comprehension

  • Eveline ChanEmail author
  • Len Unsworth
Article

Abstract

This paper presents the qualitative results of a study of students’ reading of multimodal texts in an interactive, online environment. The study forms part of a larger project which addressed image–language interaction as an important dimension of language pedagogy and assessment for students growing up in a multimedia digital age. Thirty-two Year 6 students representing a sample of high, medium and low performers on an Australian state-wide school literacy test were surveyed about their internet usage and interviewed using a structured protocol while working online through a selection of materials from an educational website. Findings from the earlier stages of the project indicated that different types of image-text relations vary in the degree of difficulty they pose for students’ reading comprehension. This phase of the project extended the analysis of image-text relations to online, interactive texts. Student performance on online reading tasks and interview data are used to illustrate some of the complexities students encounter when reading online, and how this may vary with factors such as their day-to-day literacy experiences and levels of engagement. The results have implications for literacy pedagogy and assessing the reading of web-based texts.

Keywords

Online reading Image-text relations Reading hypertext Reading comprehension Literacy instruction Literacy assessment 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The Australian Research Council for supporting this research through the Linkage Projects funding scheme (project no. LP0561658); the research team—Len Unsworth (Chief Investigator), Ann Daly (PhD candidate) from the University of New England, Armidale, Australia; Geoff Barnes (Partner Investigator), Kate O’Donnell (Partner Investigator), Peter Lind (Leader, Psychometrics and Assessment), Michelle Robins (Senior Education Officer) from the NSW Department of Education and Training, Educational Measurement and School Accountability Directorate; the participating schools and students for their valuable contributions and support for the project; and The Australian Museum for its generous permissions in the use of Australian Museum Online materials for the study and for the reproduction of the materials in publications reporting the research.

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Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia

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