Adolescent reading skill and engagement with digital and traditional literacies as predictors of reading comprehension

Lynne Duncan, Sarah McGeown, Yvonne Griffiths, Sue Stothard, Anna Dobai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the concurrent predictors of adolescent reading comprehension (literal, inferential) for fiction and non‐fiction texts. Predictors were examined from the cognitive (word identification, reading fluency), psychological (gender), and ecological (print exposure) domains. Print exposure to traditional and digital texts was surveyed using a diary method of reading habits. A cross‐sectional sample of 312 students in early (11–13 years) or middle adolescence (14–15 years) participated from a range of SES backgrounds. Word identification emerged as a strong predictor of reading comprehension across adolescence and text genres. Gender effects favouring female students were evident for reading frequency but not for reading skill itself. Reading habits also differed, and comprehension advantages were observed among females for fiction and males for non‐fiction. Age effects emerged for reading frequency, which was lower in middle adolescence. Although more time was spent on digital than on traditional texts, traditional extended text reading was the only reading habit to predict inference‐making in comprehension and to distinguish skilled from less skilled comprehenders. The theoretical and educational implications of these results are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-238
Number of pages30
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2016


  • reading habits
  • adolescence
  • digital literacy
  • print exposure
  • reading comprehension

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