Jasjit Sangha, Dan D’Agostino, and Benjamin Pottruff wrote an article for University Affairs titled What happens when we lose deep reading? (6 February 2023).

« Living in the digital age has led to many changes in human behaviour, but none perhaps as underappreciated as its impact on our ability to focus. This inability to sustain attention has in turn led to a profound change in how we read. Too many of us, who could once read deeply, may find it challenging to even finish reading a whole book. “Deep reading”, what before the Internet was simply called, “reading,” can be defined as engaging with a text in a thoughtful, critical, and reflective way such that the reader is able to make inferences from what they’ve read. For many, the loss of deep reading manifests in the unsettling realization that we are no longer able to take pleasure in the books that once moved us. For postsecondary students this also impacts how they engage with assigned course readings, with research showing that students are reading less and “having difficulty with comprehension.” »

« The culprit, identified by scientists like Naomi Baron (How We Read Now: Strategic Choices for Print, Screen, and Audio) and MaryAnne Wolf (Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World), is how we read on screens. Studies clearly show that we read on screens quickly and in a shallow way… Unfortunately, we routinely overestimate our ability to understand what we skim, often not realizing that we’ve missed the gist of what we’ve just sped through. »

« The challenges related to reading are felt by both faculty and students, yet there is little conversation about how to remedy this situation. The work of Naomi Baron shows that although faculty are assigning fewer readings, students are still reporting reading challenges. »

Related Reading: The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World by Adam Gazzaley and  Larry D. Rosen (2017).

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