Print versus digital reading comprehension tests: does the congruency of study and test medium matter?

Gal Ben-Yehudah, Yoram Eshet-Alkalai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of digital environments for both learning and assessment is becoming prevalent. This often leads to incongruent situations, in which the study medium (eg, printed textbook) is different from the testing medium (eg, online multiple-choice exams). Despite some evidence that incongruent study-test situations are associated with inferior achievements, the effect of study-test congruency has not been investigated systematically. Here, we examine this question in the context of digitally displayed versus printed text comprehension using a full-factorial experimental design. One hundred and twelve university students participated in the study. They studied an expository text in one medium (print or digital) and then, comprehension was assessed in either the same (congruent) or the different (incongruent) medium. No significant differences in performance were found between the congruent and incongruent study-test conditions. However, consistent with findings reported in the literature, comprehension of the digital text was inferior to that of the printed text. Results show that this screen inferiority occurred irrespective of the testing medium. These findings suggest that studying in one medium and taking the test in another does not affect comprehension, but the medium in which one studies does influence test outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-440
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

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© 2020 British Educational Research Association


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