Readability Matters Expands Commitment to Improving Reading Outcomes,
Announces K-8 Readability Study

October 16, 2020 – Readability Matters announces funding for a remote learning Readability study of 450 K-8th grade students.  Dr. Shannon Sheppard of Chapman University will lead the research, with collaboration from Dr. Susanne Nobles of and Dr. Sofie Beier of the School of Design at The Royal Danish Academy.  The research team will investigate how visual features of typography affect word-level and passage-level comprehension. Initial results are expected in late 2020, with a complete report later in 2021.

This study builds on previous research findings that small personalized changes to text format can create changes in reading speed and accuracy for readers of all ages. The team will evaluate changes in comprehension for young readers, given different typography conditions.

Impacts of the Study

Improved Learning Outcomes
Educators continue to evaluate opportunities created by technology to improve learning outcomes. With the expansion of available electronic content and new digital reading platforms, using personalized reading formats to improve readability becomes possible. If students engage in reading more and comprehend more fully, improved learning is expected.

Informed Technology Implementations
Digital learning is expanding. Global edTech investments were US$18.66 billion in 2019; the overall market for online education projected is expected to reach $350 Billion by 2025. (World Economic Forum) During the height of the COVID-19 school closures, an estimated 1.2 billion children were out of the classroom. As a result, education has changed dramatically, requiring significantly more digital reading. Offering effective teaching and learning in remote environments and on digital platforms will continue to be important. Increased understanding of the impact of personalized reading formats on comprehension is key to providing effective solutions. The results of this Readability study can inform education technology implementations of personalization features for learners.


ABOUT DR. SHANNON SHEPPARD: Dr. Shannon M. Sheppard is an Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Chapman University. Dr. Sheppard also serves as the Director of the Cognition, Rehabilitation, And Neuroscience, in Atypical Language Lab (CRANIAL Lab). Dr. Sheppard’s research focuses on investigating fundamental behavioral and neural processes of language comprehension.

ABOUT DR. SUSANNE NOBLES: Dr. Susanne Nobles is Chief Academic Officer at ReadWorks. The nonprofit ReadWorks leverages cognitive-science research to create high-impact reading materials and instructional tools that are designed for immediate use within the practical realities of current U.S. classrooms.

ABOUT DR. SOFIE BEIERSofie Beier is a type designer and professor WSR at The Royal Danish Academy – Architecture, Design, Conservation. Her current research is focused on improving the reading experience by achieving a better understanding of how different typefaces and letter shapes can influence the way we read. More information is available on Dr. Beier’s website.