Questions for ‘Want to improve your reading skills? You might just need more space’

a woman putting colored overlays on a paper as she talks to her teacher

Simply adjusting the spacing between letters could help people with dyslexia avoid having to use colored overlays (seen here) or other aids to read more effectively.

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To accompany Want to improve your reading skills? You might just need more space


Before Reading:

  1. Write the following sentence on a blank sheet of paper: Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers. Then write the same sentence again, but this time spread the letters and the words apart. Try doubling the space between letters. Read both sentences aloud. Which line feels easier to read? Describe differences between reading the closer-spaced letters vs. the wider-spaced letters.
  2. Consider how much time you spend reading in a standard day. Include time spent reading text messages, social media, books and school assignments. Now imagine that your best friend reads slower than you. It takes them twice as long to read the same text. How could slow reading speed affect different areas of their life?

During Reading:

  1. What is dyslexia? According to the article, what kind of text spacing is especially difficult for people with dyslexia to read?
  2. Steven Stagg and his team had students read aloud two passages of text. How did the two passages differ?
  3. How helpful were the colored overlays for students with dyslexia? How helpful were wider-spaced letters?
  4. What surprised Stagg about his research findings?
  5. What type of research does the organization called Readability Matters sponsor?
  6. Marjorie Jordan, a founder of Readability Matters, describes the new technology that she hopes technology companies will adopt. What kind of information would the “tokens” store?

After Reading:

  1. In your opinion, how valuable is the work done by organizations such as Readability Matters? Imagine you are a member of Readability Matters and your goal is to convince a large online textbook company to use the token system described in this article. What would you say to the company to persuade them to make such a change to their system? Cite at least one finding from this study to strengthen your argument.
  2. What is one take-away message from this article? Even if technology companies never got on board, how might a student still be able to use the findings of this study to improve their own academic experience?