An Instructor Guide

Engaging and Motivating College Student Readers
through Customizable Reading Text Interface

Jenae Cohn, Ph.D., Kathy Crowley, and Marjorie Jordan


In higher education today, students access materials for learning in a variety of formats, from print textbooks to e-books, and PDFs. Given the importance of digital environments for delivering core college course material today, we must consider ways that students can read deeply in online environments.

Textbooks, open educational resources, and academic articles may not be designed to be aligned with readers’ learning needs. In fact, current reading platforms do not allow for easy personalization of the reading format with little to no option for the reader to control the way the text is presented. The Readability Features (e.g. user ability to control size, shape, and spacing of text) necessary to take advantage of the opportunity to elevate reading performance are missing from most reading platforms.

The document outlines the concerns instructors describe with reading in a higher education context, and concerns with the the ways in which personalized reading solutions can help alleviate the issues. A reading personalization tool comparison chart and instructions on creating personalizable PDFs are included.

Request the full paper below.


About Jenae Cohn Jenae Cohn, Ph.D. writes and speaks about teaching and learning in digital spaces. She works as an Academic Technology Specialist in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University. Find more of Jenae’s work at

About Readability Matters The nonprofit Readability Matters launched to bring together the thinkers and the doers required to evolve digital reading platforms so that everyone, from children to adults, can be the best reader they can be, enjoy reading more and get more done. Personalized digital reading experiences can increase reading speed, accuracy, and comprehension. Readability Matters is creating an ecosystem of partners working to build better reading.


Get the Paper

For more information about our privacy practices please visit our Privacy Policy page. By completing the form, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.