PIRLS 2021 International Results in Reading
Students’ Reading Attitudes and Behaviors
Students Use Digital Devices to Find and Read Information
Students participating in PIRLS 2021 were asked to indicate how much time they spent using a computer, tablet, or smartphone to find and read information for schoolwork on a normal school day. Interpreting the results depends on a number of factors, including the regularity of schoolwork that involves searching for information, the difficulty of the searches, students’ personal interests, and their inclination to not become distracted by extraneous information.
Exhibit 7.5 presents the countries’ results in alphabetic order together with average achievement for three categories of time spent—“more than 30 minutes per school day,” “30 minutes or less per school day,” and “no time per school day.”
On average, about half the students (52%) were in the middle category of time spent, spending “30 minutes or less per school day” using digital devices to find and read information, and these students had the highest average reading achievement (512). Relatively fewer students reported spending either “more than 30 minutes” (25%) or “no time” (23%) per school day finding and reading digital information. The students who reported spending the most time, “more than 30 minutes per school day,” had somewhat lower achievement (502) than those that spent “30 minutes or less,” which could indicate a number of situations (e.g., they were assigned extra practice work, were just slower readers, or spent more time becoming distracted). The students who reported spending “no time” had the lowest average achievement (486). This finding about the distribution of digital device use and associated achievement is consistent with other research (e.g., Bundsgaard & Gerick, 20171).
Exhibit 7.6 shows that on average, the results for the time spent using digital devices to find and read information on a normal school day were similar for girls and boys, but with somewhat more girls in the middle time spent category—“30 minutes or less per school day” (56% vs. 49%). On average, 24 percent of girls reported spending “more than 30 minutes” per school day using digital devices to find and read information, 56 percent reported “30 minutes or less,” and 21 percent reported “no time.” In comparison, 27 percent of boys reported spending “more than 30 minutes” per school day, 49 percent reported spending “30 minutes or less,” and 25 percent reported spending “no time.”