As part of an ongoing research project focused on the use of e-books and e-reading devices (e.g., Kindle, Nook, iPad) in academic environments, this study reports on a novel methodological approach to investigate everyday reading habits of college and university students.
Real-time Reading: A Twitter-based Diary Study of College Students
Real-time Reading: A Twitter-
based Diary Study of College
School of Information and
Pratt Institute, NY
2013 ALA CARROLL PRESTON BABER RESEARCH GRANT
QQML 2014 | Istanbul | May 28, 2014
Our digital existence
is concerned with the
“sea change in the
way we read and
—Nicholas Carr, Is Google
Making Us Stupid? 2008.
Vincenzo Agnetti, “Libro Dimenticato a Memoria”,1970 | source
■ Great deal of research on e-books and e-readers.
■ Primary focus on adoption and use, emphasis on
the context of teaching and learning.
■ Cognitive aspects of digital reading and its
implications on attention and content retention.
What everyday life circumstances shape reading
How is the nature of reading changing in the digital
How do readers make decisions about reading
■ Undergraduate and Graduate Students
■ 11 participants
■ 7 completed all three phases of the study
BARNARD COLLEGE: 5 PARTICIPANTS
Majors: Biology (1), Architecture (1), undecided (3)
PRATT INSTITUTE: 6 PARTICIPANTS
School of Information and Library Science
3 full-time and 3 part-time
Age: 18-24 (2), 35-44 (2), 45-54 (1), and 55-64 (1).
TOPICS OF DISCUSSION:
■ Positive and negative reading experiences; ideal
■ How participants engage with reading material.
■ Likes/dislikes about particular formats.
■ What activities encompass "reading.”
■ Participants employ many reading strategies
depending upon the purpose of their reading (e.g.
academic versus leisure).
■ Participants had strong preferences for reading
formats depending on their purpose for reading.
■ Participants tended to favor print for academic and
digital for leisure reading.
Diary method is used to collect person-level, spontaneous
data in a naturalistic setting.
To capture a snapshot of reality as the reading experience
unfolds. In line with typology of participants.
Twitter not leveraged as a on-the-fly diary method yet.
■ Start the day after focus group
■ Event-contingent protocol (anytime they read
minus incidental reading—e.g., ads on the
■ What to include in an entry (what they read,
format, device, location, length of time,
interaction, free format comments)
■ At least one photo of a reading environment per
■ Participants used unique accounts. Privacy
settings. Sent reminder tweets twice a day.
TWITTER AS A DIARY METHOD
■ 140-character entries: PROS
—immediacy and real time context
—multimedia capability (e.g., instant photos)
—recorded archive for later analysis
■ 140-character entries: CONS
—limited expression capability
One-to-one, semi-structure interviews conducted within
two weeks of conclusion of Twitter diaries to facilitate
participants’ recollection of reading experiences and
enforce data accuracy.
7 participants (6 in-person, 1 Skype)
CAVEAT: preliminary analysis within one week from twitter
diary phase to inform interview guide. Need great
coordination on the part of the researchers.
■ Preferred reading environment (e.g., role of
■ Preferences as for medium and format
■ Changing habits
■ Close vs. fast reading
■ Perception of online reading
■ Feedback on the Twitter as a diary method
Full transcription is complete and coding is ongoing.
In my mind...I count sitting down with a book, a
physical book, or reading a book on Kindle, or on
my computer--that’s reading. But when
I’m ...reading an article on the Internet, I don’t
necessarily count that as reading. I had to keep
pulling myself up and going, ‘Hang on, you are,
and you actually have been reading for half an
hour.’ ...It was interesting to see that I have that
—Participant 11 (Follow-up interview)