International students’ reading digital texts on tablets: experiences and strategies

  • Ho-Ryong ParkEmail author
  • Deoksoon Kim
  • Oksana Vorobel


This multiple case study investigated four university-level international students’ reading of digital texts on tablets. The study describes these students’ experiences with and strategies for mobile reading. The participants were four international students in the United States, and their first language (L1) was not English. The data were collected through observations, verbal reports, interviews, and field notes. The findings showed that participants had both positive and negative experiences using tablets for reading and that mobile reading facilitated their learning about their lives, language, culture, and technology. The study shows that the participants used six reading strategies: (a) setting up the purpose, (b) deciding what to read, (c) accessing a digital text, (d) dialoguing, (e) making a connection, and (f) using applications and digital literacy skills. The article discusses mobile reading, with a focus on strategies, affordances and processes, as well as cultural learning and empowerment.


International students Reading of digital texts Mobile reading Strategies Digital literacy 



  1. Anderson, T. L. (2012). Examining elementary students’ use of electronic readers for independent reading (Doctoral dissertation). University of Tennessee. Retrieved from
  2. Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2006). Teaching and learning multiliteracies: Changing times, changing literacies. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.Google Scholar
  3. Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays by M. M. Bakhtin (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Trans.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays (V. W. McGee, Trans.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. (Original work published 1979).Google Scholar
  5. Carrell, P. L., & Eisterhold, J. C. (1983). Schema theory and ESL reading pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly,17(4), 553–573. Scholar
  6. Chai, Z., Vail, C. O., & Ayres, K. M. (2015). Using an iPad application to promote early literacy development in young children with disabilities. The Journal of Special Education,48, 268–278. Scholar
  7. Chang, C.-K., & Hsu, C.-K. (2011). A mobile-assisted synchronously collaborative translation-annotation system for English as a foreign language (EFL) reading comprehension. Computer Assisted Language Learning,24(2), 155–180. Scholar
  8. Chen, C.-M., & Lin, Y.-J. (2016). Effects of different text display types on reading comprehension, sustained attention and cognitive load in mobile reading contexts. Interactive Learning Environments,24(3), 553–571. Scholar
  9. Cho, B.-Y., Woodward, L., Li, D., & Barlow, W. (2017). Examining adolescents’ strategic processing during online reading with a question-generating task. American Educational Research Journal,54(4), 691–724. Scholar
  10. Chou, I.-C. (2012). Understanding on-screen reading behaviors in academic contexts: A case study of five graduate English-as-a-second-language students. Computer Assisted Language Learning,25(5), 411–433. Scholar
  11. Coiro, J. (2003). Exploring literacy on the Internet. The Reading Teacher, 56(5), 458–464. Retrieved from
  12. Coiro, J. (2011). Predicting reading comprehension on the Internet: Contributions of offline reading skills, online reading skills, and prior knowledge. Journal of Literacy Research,43(4), 352–392. Scholar
  13. Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Crowley, K., McLaughlin, T., & Kahn, R. (2013). Using direct instruction flashcards and reading racetracks to improve sight word recognition of two elementary students with autism. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities,25, 297–311. Scholar
  15. Cunningham, I., Hyman, J., & Baldry, C. (1996). Empowerment: The power to do what? Industrial Relations Journal,27(2), 143–154. Scholar
  16. Ericsson, K. A., & Simon, H. A. (1980). Verbal reports as data. Psychological Review,87(3), 215–251. Scholar
  17. Fraser, M., & Abbott, M. (2016). Using electronic readers: Action research in an intermediate adult ESL class. The Canadian Journal of Action Research, 17(2), 3–18. Retrieved from
  18. Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum International.Google Scholar
  19. Galante, A. (2014). Developing EAL learners’ intercultural sensitivity through a digital literacy project. TESL Canada Journal, 32(1), 53–66. Retrieved from Scholar
  20. Gilster, P. (1997). Digital literacy. New York: Wiley Computer Publications.Google Scholar
  21. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  22. Gu, Q., Schweisfurth, M., & Day, C. (2010). Learning and growing in a ‘foreign’ context: Intercultural experiences of international students. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education,40(1), 7–23. Scholar
  23. Hartman, D. K. (1995). Eight readers reading: The intertextual links of proficient readers reading multiple passages. Reading Research Quarterly,30(3), 520–561. Scholar
  24. Hazaea, N. A., & Alzubi, A. A. (2016). The effectiveness of using mobile on EFL learners’ reading practices in Najran University. English Language Teaching,9(5), 8–21. Scholar
  25. Hobbs, R. (2017). Create to learn: Introduction to digital literacy. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell.Google Scholar
  26. Hobbs, R., & Coiro, J. (2019). Design features of a professional development program in digital literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy,62(4), 401–409. Scholar
  27. Hsu, C.-K., Hwang, G.-J., & Chang, C.-K. (2013). A personalized recommendation-based mobile learning approach to improving the reading performance of EFL students. Computers & Education,63, 327–336. Scholar
  28. Huang, H. (2013). Online reading strategies at work: What teachers think and what students do. ReCALL,25(3), 340–358. Scholar
  29. Huang, L. L., & Lin, C. C. (2011). EFL learners’ reading on mobile phones. The JALT CALL Journal, 7(1), 61–78. Retrieved from
  30. Keene, E. O., & Zimmermann, S. (1997). Mosaic of thought: Teaching comprehension in a reader’s workshop. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  31. Kellner, D. (2010). New technologies/new literacies: Reconstructing education for the new millennium. Teaching Education,11(3), 245–265. Scholar
  32. Kim, M. S. (2005). Culture-based conversational constraints theory: Individual and cultural-level analyses. In W. B. Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing about intercultural communication (pp. 93–118). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  33. Kimbell-Lopez, K., Cummins, C., & Manning, E. (2016). Developing digital literacy in the middle school classroom. Computers in the Schools,33(4), 211–226. Scholar
  34. Lan, Y.-J., Sung, Y.-T., & Chang, K.-E. (2007). A mobile-device-supported peer-assisted learning system for collaborative early EFL reading. Language Learning & Technology, 11(3), 130–151. Retrieved from
  35. Lan, Y.-J., Sung, Y.-T., & Chang, K.-E. (2009). Let us read together: Development and evaluation of a computer-assisted reciprocal early English reading system. Computers & Education,53, 1188–1198. Scholar
  36. Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2015). Digital literacy and digital literacies: Policy, pedagogy and research considerations for education. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 9(4), 8–20. Retrieved from
  37. Lin, C. C. (2014). Learning English reading in a mobile-assisted extensive reading program. Computers & Education,78, 48–59. Scholar
  38. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Loeb, M. (2002). Literacy marriage: A study of intertextuality in a series of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates. Bern: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  40. Mayer, R. E. (2017). Using multimedia for e-learning. Journal of Computer Assisted learning,33, 403–423. Scholar
  41. McClanahan, B., Williams, K., Kennedy, E., & Tate, S. (2012). A breakthrough for Josh: How use of an iPad facilitated reading improvement. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning,56, 20–28. Scholar
  42. Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education: Revised and expanded from case study research in education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  43. Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  44. Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  45. Miranda, T., Johnson, K. A., & Rossi-Williams, D. (2012). E-readers: Powering up for engagement. Educational Leadership, 69(9), 1–3. Retrieved from
  46. Nasab, H. S., & Taki, S. (2016). Effect of MALL in blended learning on Iranian EFL learners’ reading comprehension. Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods, 6(1), 854–869. Retrieved from
  47. O’Malley, J. M., & Chamot, A. U. (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Oxford, R. L. (1990). Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know. Boston, MA: Heinle, Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  49. Park, H.-R. (2012). Four English language learners’ experiences and strategy use in learning environments of multiliteracies (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of South Florida, FL.Google Scholar
  50. Park, H.-R. (2017). Influences of reading online texts in Korean English language learners’ cultural identities. The Journal of Educational Research, 111(4), 385–397. Scholar
  51. Park, H.-R., & Kim, D. (2011). Reading-strategy use by English as a second language learners in online reading tasks. Computers & Education, 57(3), 2156–2166. Scholar
  52. Park, H.-R., & Kim, D. (2016). English language learners’ strategies for reading computer-based texts at home and in school. CALICO Journal, 33(3), 380–409. Scholar
  53. Park, H.-R., & Kim, D. (2017). English language learners’ strategies for reading online texts: Influential factors and patterns of use at home and in school. International Journal of Educational Research, 82, 63–74. Scholar
  54. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  55. Pew Research Center. (2015). Technology device ownership: 2015. Retrieved from
  56. Rosenblatt, L. M. (1978). The reader, the text, the poem: The transactional theory of the literary work. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Rosenblatt, L. M. (1982). The literacy transaction: Evocation and response. Theory into Practice, 21(4), 268–277. Retrieved from Scholar
  58. Rumelhart, D. E. (1980). Schemata: The building blocks of cognition. In R. J. Spiro, B. C. Bruce, & W. F. Brewer (Eds.), Theoretical issues in reading comprehension: Perspectives from cognitive psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, and education (pp. 33–58). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  59. Shimray, S. R., Keerti, C., & Ramaiah, C. K. (2015). An overview of mobile reading habits. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology,35(5), 343–354. Scholar
  60. Short, P. M., Greer, J. T., & Melvin, W. M. (1994). Creating empowered schools: Lessons in change. Journal of Educational Research,32(4), 38–52. Scholar
  61. Thornton, P., & Houser, C. (2005). Using mobile phones in English education in Japan. Journal of Computer Assisted learning,21, 217–228. Scholar
  62. Tingir, S., Cavlazoglu, B., Caliskan, O., Koklu, O., & Intepe-Tingir, S. (2017). Effects of mobile devices on K-12 students’ achievement: A meta-analysis. Journal of Computer Assisted learning,33(4), 355–369. Scholar
  63. van Lier, L. (2004). The ecology and semiotics of language learning: A sociocultural perspective. Norwell, MA: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Viswanathan, P. (2017). What is a mobile device? Retrieved from
  65. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Wallace, R. M., Kupperman, J., Krajcik, J., & Soloway, E. (2000). Science on the web: Students online in a sixth-grade classroom. The Journal of the Learning Science,9(1), 75–104. Scholar
  67. Wang, S., & Smith, S. (2013). Reading and grammar learning through mobile phones. Language Learning & Technology, 17(3), 117–134. Retrieved from
  68. Ware, P., Kern, R., & Warschauer, M. (2016). The development of digital literacies. In R. M. Manchón & P. K. Matsuda (Eds.), Handbook of second and foreign language writing (pp. 307–328). Boston/Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  69. Williams, L., & Guikema, J. P. (Eds.). (2014). Digital literacies in foreign and second language education. San Marcos, TX: Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English and PhilosophyMurray State UniversityMurrayUSA
  2. 2.Lynch School of EducationBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of Academic Literacy and LinguisticsBorough of Manhattan Community CollegeNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations