Crean College is delighted to announce that Assistant Professor of Communication Science and Disorders, Shannon Sheppard will lead new research investigating how visual features of typography affect word-level and passage-level comprehension for K-8 students. Dr. Sheppard will collaborate with Dr. Susanne Nobles of and Dr. Sofie Beier of the School of Design at The Royal Danish Academy. 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.

Initial results are expected in late 2020, with a complete report later in 2021.

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.


To learn more about Dr. Sheppard’s research, please have a look at the Cognition, Rehabilitation & Neuroscience In Atypical Language Lab (CRANIAL Lab) on our website.