Recent Research

Gasser, U., et al. (2012). Youth and digital media: From credibility to information quality. Cambridge: Harvard University. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2005272

This report seeks to understand youths’ real experiences of online information quality. Building upon a process- and context-oriented information quality framework, this paper seeks to map and explore what we know about the ways in which young users of age 18 and under search for information online, how they evaluate information, and how their related practices of content creation, levels of new literacies, general digital media usage, and social patterns affect these activities. A review of selected literature at the intersection of digital media, youth, and information quality — primarily works from library and information science, sociology, education, and selected ethnographic studies — reveals patterns in youth’s information-seeking behavior, but also highlights the importance of contextual and demographic factors both for search and evaluation. Looking at the phenomenon from an information-learning and educational perspective, the literature shows that youth develop competencies for personal goals that sometimes do not transfer to school, and are sometimes not appropriate for school. Thus far, educational initiatives to educate youth about search, evaluation, or creation have depended greatly on the local circumstances for their success or failure. The report synthesizes more than three years of research. One key finding: Youth use cues and heuristics to evaluate quality, especially visual and interactive elements.

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Krashen, S., Lee, S., & McQuillan, J. (2012). Is The library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. http://backseatlinguist.com/blog/

Three multivariate analyses, all controlling for the effects of poverty, confirm the importance of the library. Replicating McQuillan’s analysis of 1992 NAEP scores, access to books in school and public libraries was a significant predictor of 2007 fourth grade NAEP reading scores, as well as the difference between grade 4 and grade 8 2007 NAEP reading scores, suggesting that access is important for improvement after grade 4. Access (school/classroom libraries) was a significant predictor of scores on the PIRLS test, a reading test given to fourth graders in 40 countries. In some of the analyses, access to books had a larger impact on reading achievement test scores than poverty, and in other cases had nearly as strong an impact. This suggests that providing more access to books can mitigate the effect of poverty on reading achievement, a conclusion consistent with other recent results. This result is of enormous practical importance: Children of poverty typically have little access to books. It seems that libraries can provide this access.

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Mol., S., & Bus, A. (2011). To read or not to read: A meta-analysis of print exposure from infancy to early adulthood. Psychological Bulletin, 137(2), 267-296. doi: 10.1037/a0021890

This confirming research in Dutch found that children who read books regularly in their spare time do better academically. An upward cycle of causality occurred: children who comprehend text better, and have better technical and spelling skills read more, and their skills improve more each year.

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Williams-Rossi, Miranda, T., Johnson, K., & McKenzie, N. (2012). Reluctant readers in middle school: Successful engagement with text using the e-reader. International Journal of Applied Science and Technology. http://tinyurl.com/d3b6avw.

Previous research in the field has shown that upper elementary and middle school students tend to read less than younger students because of time spent with their friends and in other activities. Also, these same students, particularly boys, may not value reading as much as they did when they were younger. Among those students, research has shown that low-skilled readers have trouble starting, continuing and finishing a book, and that they are stymied by vocabulary and reading comprehension challenges. Skilled readers, on the other hand, enjoy books. Researchers have suggested that technological gadgets, enlarged text and a more favorable environment might encourage reluctant readers. For those reasons the authors pursued a study to see how reluctant readers would respond to e-readers. The study presents reasons e-readers may be beneficial, in particular, to reluctant readers in middle grades.

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