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University of Connecticut Neag School of Education ORCA

Understanding the New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension


A new literacies perspective of online reading comprehension frames online reading comprehension as a process of problem-based inquiry involving the new skills, strategies, dispositions, and social practices that take place as we use the Internet.

One difference from earlier models of traditional print comprehension is that online reading comprehension involves a self-directed process of constructing texts while engaged in at least five practices: 1) reading to identify important questions, 2) reading to locate information, 3) reading to evaluate information critically, 4) reading to synthesize information, and 5) reading to communicate information.

Within these five inquiry-based practices reside the skills, strategies, and dispositions distinctive to online reading as well as others that are also important for offline reading comprehension.


Areas to Explore

  1. Introduction: This location provides an overview of the new literacies of online reading comprehension and links to a growing list of skills, strategies, and dispositions that have emerged from our research as necessary for successful online reading performance.Additional readings and background material useful for faculty study groups is provided here as well.
  2. Show Me: Here you can view video segments of students engaged in four components of online reading comprehension, including reading to locate, reading to evaluate, reading to synthesize, and reading to communicate. For each component, you can view video examples of skilled and less-skilled readers alongside notes about important skills that are present or absent during each student’s completion of the task.
  3. Let Me Try: Here you can practice scoring selected video segments of students at each phase of the online reading process. A scoring rubric is provided for each item as well as space to record your observations about each student. You are also encouraged to discuss observations with colleagues to ensure you are noticing similar things and to make connections to skills you might be noticing among your own students.
  4. In My Class: This location offers a series of lessons linked to each of the components of online reading comprehension. After you have considered your own students’ strengths and areas of need, you can access or adapt lessons focused on specific skills to integrate instruction in online reading comprehension into your classroom curricula.


Learning Goals

After exploring this set of online resources, you will better understand how to:

  • Identify the online reading skills and strategies necessary to comprehend text and conduct research on the Internet
  • Connect the set of online reading skills with Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Reading in Science
  • Give examples of how skilled and less skilled seventh graders perform in four key areas of online reading comprehension and research
  • Score student performance on items that measure their ability to locate, evaluate, synthesize and communicate information on the Internet for a specific research task
  • Teach your students the reading skills for how to locate, evaluate, synthesize, and communicate online information for their own Internet research project

Additional Readings

New Literacies Theory and Research in Online Reading Comprehension

Teaching and Assessing Online Reading Comprehension