Reading: F vs Z patterns

At the recent ECOO conference, I was really fascinated by Ian Jukes’ presentation that highlighted the differences in reading patterns of many children today, especially if they are web users. Ian explained that the brains of this generation of students are actually wired differently than brains of previous generations of students. Of course, there are many implications for student learning if we take these findings to heart. Key findings include:

  • the brain is constantly learning
  • eye movements occur in different patterns, typically more F shaped than the Z shape we (adults) use
  • as a result, students of ignore areas of a page or screen that we might assume contains important content
  • students learn better when multimedia content is included
  • students view graphics before text
  • students read colour before black on white
  • pace of lesson delivery plays a factor in student engagement (Note: varies from student to student, but in general is faster than adults process information
  • tests show that people visualize content at a 90% rate

Now, think about the ramifications of not learning more about the student ‘digitally wired’ brain. What are the implications of:

  • anchor chart design
  • poster design
  • print and textbook layout
  • software screen layout design
  • web page design

I had a chance to share some of this information at our table discussion regarding effective use of anchor charts. This lead into a really engaging discussion about how to increase awareness and change our behaviours in the area of text design.

Since the conference, I have located a number of internet based resources on this topic which I have shared below.

Related Reading

F shaped reading patterns
Eye tracking patterns
Graphic Design layout patterns related to scanning patterns
F shaped reading patterns for web content
The Black Art of web publishing
The Luon blog post
Reading patterns

Enjoy the learning and thinking.

~ Mark

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