Background of study
is a skill that unlocks the doors of learning and success. It is commonly
accepted that reading is a foundational skill that plays a major role in a
child’s academic success. However, there are many factors which likely to
affect a person’s ability to read the comprehension such as internal and
external stimuli, phonological processing, and visual processing. For instant,
color influences a person on reading comprehension. As a matter of fact, during 1958, Jansky (1958) reported the case of a student with a reading deficit who
was unable to recognize words printed on a white paper but was able to
recognize words printed on a yellow paper.
five senses explore the world around us, but color is a direct response to the
sense of sight. Over the years, the use of color for visually enhancing a
person’s reading ability has undergone a transformation from the use of colored
chalk on chalkboards to using black ink on colored paper as using colored paper
for the background of a text may enhance the eye’s ability to focus and adhere
to the print at hand. The ability of the eyes to perceive color and color hues
vary from person to person and are individually specific. Specifically, cool
colors increases inward attention, while warm color increases outward
Numerous studies conducted on the effects of
colored paper on reading comprehension are published in various scientific
journals. A study carried out by Jeanes et al
which reported that the colored paper did not increase the performance scores
of the students. The inference from this study is that color has a significant
influence on reading fluency and comprehension and is specific to the
individual. The results of this study were not consistent with Clifton , which
affirmed that color enhances the ability to see print on a page. Clifton
pointed out that best colored papers to be deployed in the classroom include
yellow, blue, pink, green and beige. These colors are effective to enhancing
readability while at the same time reducing distortions. Meanwhile, there is an
increase in the number of unconfirmed reports of individuals whose reading
fluency has been affected by different colors.
Apart from the studies conducted on the effects
of reading comprehension on students, there is a growing need to determine
whether using colored paper could directly be associated with the ability of a
student to read the comprehension. This is because reading
plays importance role for everyone in their academic success.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Every year there is at least one student,
often more, that just seem to have more difficulties than the other children
with tracking, creating a return sweep with their eyes and comprehending a text
even at a basic level. Given the situation, it is high time that our local
government takes serious effort in studying the possible reason that arise from
Therefore, this research is lacking to
ascertain if using color as a background reduces distractions and allows the
reader to focus more on the printed words. If learners increase their focus
more on processing print, take less effort in reading the words on the page,
and develop reading fluency, then an increase in comprehension may follow.
Specifically, there is a lack of research on the use of black text on colored
background and whether or not it increases reading comprehension, vocabulary
acquisition, and fluency.
1.3 Purpose of Statement
Given the most studies show that
in general, colors do not make that much of a difference. However, beige,
goldenrod, green, pink and blue have been shown to increase readability and
contrast for students to read the comprehension.
In response to
this possible concern, a special research committee was set up recently to
investigate this issue further. The
purpose of the study described in this research was to determine if using black
text on colored background would increase reading comprehension and vocabulary
scores as compared to the use of black text on white background.
1.4 Research Questions
1. Does using colored
paper affect reading comprehension?
2. Why using colored
paper will affect a person’s ability to read the comprehension?
3. How does using
colored paper affect a person to read the comprehension?
1.5 Significance of the study
This chapter reviews the literature on colors
towards students reading comprehension deemed relevant to the research
objectives. This includes an overview of the relation between visual stress and
reading, comparison between cool colors and warm colors, dyslexia and colored
overlays and the way colored overlays help on readings.
Visual Stress and Reading
The term “visual stress” is a condition contributing
to the inability to see comfortably and without obstacles. According to Wilkins, Nimmo-Smith, Tait
, McManus, Della Sala, Tilley, Arnold, Barrie and Scott, it is responsible for
visual stimulus and thus it is a sensorial origin and not to the visual anxiety
created by the development of the eyes. Visual stress can be due to a number of
conditions including dyslexia, but is not the same. There are some of the
symptoms of visual stress which including headache when reading, rapid tiring,
blurring of print. Also, as you realize that you are in poor concentration, low
self-esteem and often use fingers as marker, you must take awareness as all of
these are the sign of visual stress. This visual stress interest roughly 12-14%
of the population and 46% is the individual who face dyslexia (Irlen, 1997).
to Meares (1980), the perceptual instability with respect to the background of
the black ink writing on a white paper is the major factors contributing to the
children reading difficulties. Thus, it is also the idea that a lot of
researchers did the research between the relationship of colors and reading.
Colors (cool colors vs warm colors )
“color is ubiquitous in individual’s perceptual
experience of the world” (Elliot, Moller, Friedman, Maier, and Meinhardt ,
2007, p.154). There is no escaping color as they shape our life. Color is all
around us and within us.
Color act as an effective incentives. According to
Sinclair, Soldat, and Mark (1998), students who are tested with colored papers
may process the information less systematically which result a different
performance on that particular examination. It is very common that warm colors
such as red, yellow, orange can evoke a person feelings of happiness and
optimism the energy while cool colors such as green, blue and purple are often
calming and soothing but can also express sadness. That is why color does
affect students reading comprehension as warm colors help student to focus the
attention outward while the cool colors focus the attention inward.
Color gives people a different dimensions when
relating to the ability to look at the print on a page. Irlen (1991) stated
that to reduce the distortions and increase the readability of students,
teacher should use the colors such as yellow, green and blue as classroom’s
wallpapers. It is because all of those colors are able to give students a more
comfortable environment to study and a more positive mindset to think. But, it
will not help those students who are trouble the reading difficulties in
phonetics, sound blending or weak vocabulary as it only will eliminate the
perceptual problem of print on the page. It is going to continue to do more
research to prove that whether utilize colors for reading fluency and
comprehension is a strategy for all type of students.
Dyslexia and Colored Overlays
Visual stress is commonly included to a number of
conditions of dyslexia and most of the schools used colored overlays to help
their students in improving visual stress symptoms co-occurring with dyslexia. However,
there are increase in recent studies argue that visual stress is not a subset
of the dyslexia. For instance, Kriss and Evans (2005) concluded that visual
stress and dyslexia are independent condition as the prevalence of visual
stress in non-dyslexic individuals is of only 10% lower than in the dyslexic
Albeit it seems that there are no relationship between
visual stress and dyslexia, it is often the case that significantly claimed
that when an individual who have dyslexia with visual stress, his reading
difficulties will become worsen. According to Wilkins (2002), the children
reading speed increases about 25% when they can choose the colored overlay
themselves. And, the result also shows that the dyslexic children get more
benefit than the non-dyslexic children when using colored overlays (Singleton and Henderson, 2007). For adults, it
seems that only individual with dyslexia and visual stress get the benefit form
the use of colored overlays when compared with others.
and Trotter (2005) argued that if the two conditions are
not related, then it should be any individual who have visual stress regardless
the presence of dyslexia would benefitted from the use of colored overlays. Besides,
the author also assumed that colored overlays were only beneficial to the
individual with visual stress and dyslexia but not the non-dyslexic individual
with visual stress. Therefore, visual stress and dyslexia are interdependent.
Thus, there exist two views. According to one view,
visual stress and dyslexia are independent conditions. According to the other
view, visual stress and dyslexia are dependent conditions.
Ways of colors help on reading (if it does)
There are plenty of studies which related to the
color overlays and readings are investigating by many researchers until now.
But, it still do not have a confirm answer because the very nature of the
visual stress and its role in reading has often been questioned.
According to some authors such as
(Chase et.al, 2003), magnocellular system is the brain structure that control
the understanding of the relation between colored overlays and reading. In
fact, since red color helps students to inhibit the activity of magnocellular
system, thus it is better to use a red light environment as compared to a green
light environment. As the magnocellular system is inhibited, the ability of
reading of students will also increase. Albeit there are a lot of findings
which are proved that colored overlays are beneficial to the students but since
early findings show that each individual benefits from the use of specific
colors. Therefore, there is just some particular colors are suggested by those
Huang, Cooper, Satana, KaufmaI, Cao (2003) discovered that one of the reason
that illusions and distortions occurred is because there is excessive
excitation of the cortical neurons. When the visual cortex overreacts to those
visual stimulations will cause the symptoms such as fatigue which associated with
visual stress. In fact, a study by Wilkins and Evans (2010) proposed that
colored overlays increase an individual’s excessive excitations which help them
to alleviate the symptoms of visual stress, therefore improving reading. Besides,
some studies by Wilkins et.al, (1994), Robinson and Foreman (1999) which show
that each reader benefits from the use of colored overlays if the colored
overlay is specific are congruent with the view of visual stress.
The target participants of this
experiment comprised of 10 aged 9 years old students. Students were selected
from a class which have 40 students to ensure an equal ratio of male and female
participants. Since the experiment monitored the changes in improvement in
reading comprehension of the same students, thus there was no control sample required.
The purpose of the experiment is to determine the difference in reading
comprehension when using different colored papers. The participants were
considered ‘average’ grade readers based on their reading tests in their
The study used the same difficulties
passages written and printed it on the white, blue, yellow and green of colored
papers. Before the experiment, factors such as color blindness and attention
disorders which are likely to affect the experiment were determined. This means
that every participants have to affirm the colors of those colored papers first
before they start to read the text. During the experiment, the participants
will start to read the text on the white colored paper and the reading marks
noted down. After a week, the same students were given the same difficulty
passages written on a blue colored paper and their marks recorded. The same
experiment is repeated by using the yellow and green colored papers.
In this research a qualitative data has been
collected about the effects of colors on the students reading comprehension.
For this purpose, 10 students who are 9 years old from primary school were
chosen to read the equally difficult text on different colored papers and a
comparative analysis on each student’s marks on different colored papers will
be conducted to determine whether colored papers increase reading
comprehension. The independent variable of this experiment is the colors of the
papers while the dependent variable is the marks of the reading comprehension
of each 10 students.
4.0 Results and Data
The results of this particular
experiment describe the changes in reading comprehension as depicted by the
change in the test marks of the subjects. From the results, the mean test marks
of using white colored paper is 72.8, blue colored paper is 81.1, yellow
colored paper is 77.7 and green colored paper is 78.8. This obviously show that
most of the student reported higher test marks on the yellow, blue and green
colored papers than on white colored paper and there is only one student who
did not report any improvement on green colored paper as compared to white
colored paper and also reported a drop when reading comprehension on blue and
yellow colored papers. The table below shows the changes of the students test
marks for the ten participants, the test marks are out of hundred.
Mean test mark
It is evident from the result and data
that the significant differences were found when the participants read
comprehension with and without colored papers. That is, most of the
participants get higher marks when using blue, green and yellow colored papers
to read the particular comprehension that white colored paper. This is also
evident in the increase of the mean test marks. Therefore, the research
hypothesis which state that the colors help students to improve their reading
skills is affirmed from the data observed. Besides, there is a positive
correlation between colors and reading comprehension which prove that colors
can be used to enhance reading comprehension. In fact, there are a few studies which reported positive effects of
using colors on reading comprehension ( Blaskey et al., 1990; Evans, Cook,
Richard & Drasdo, 1994; Tyrell, Holland, Dennis & Wilkins, 1995;
Fletcher & Martinez, 1994; Robinson & Conway, 1990; Wilkins, Lewis
Smith, Rowland &Tweedie, 2001). With this results, one can
conclude that, the colors of the text sheets can simply changing student’s
reading performance rather than making efforts to change the whole classroom environment
with wall colors, desk arrangements, or classroom decorations.
there is a previous study which mentioned that colored papers do not
significantly influences reading comprehension (Johnston, 1984). It is because the vocabulary development, intelligence,
parental involvement and fluency of each student are different between each
other. It may only affect the student’s mood and physiological reaction while
reading comprehension. That is, a student’s reading performance is based on his
or her dedication, motivation and hard work.
Moreover, according to one of the
previous user studies, only the specific background colors could be beneficial
for someone when reading the comprehension (Skinner, 2004).
This means that the effects of color on reading fluency and comprehension are
individual specific. There is also another study from Irlen (1991) who proclaim
that optimal color is individualistic. It is
also evident from the data that some of the participants get a higher marks
when read on blue colored paper but not green and yellow and vice versa. It is
because the particular specific color gives the individual a comfortable
feeling to read the comprehension better. Thus, using the right color and
correct selection can seriously affect each individual feelings, attention and
Lastly, the reason why we consider
colors as one of the factors that will affect student reading comprehension is
because there is an investigation which shows that school children have a
tendency to read faster and perform better on a test with different colored
papers (Wilkins et al, 2001). Therefore, to assess if printed colors on
comprehension text can help in improving a student’s reading performance, I
believed that I should choose colors as a factor to determine if there is any
significance between those colors and text with a white background.
6.0 Conclusion& Recommendation
Colors may serve as affective cues as
Sinclair et al. (1998) proclaim
“students whose examination forms are on colors that convey more positive
affect may process information less systematically, 38 leading to differential
performance on the examination” (p. 130). Result of this study reported that
the effect of the colored papers and the interaction effect is statistically
significant, implying that colors do significant affect a student’s reading performance.
As different colors may give student a different feelings to think in a
positive way during reading, thus students can get higher marks when using
colored paper as a background of the text.
Parents and teachers are encouraged to
use different colors as the background of the text when giving their students
or children to read such comprehension. It is to help them to lay a good
foundation and thus increase their academic results. Moreover, teachers may
also use the colored paper such as blue in some difficult examinations such as
Mathematics or Science to provide a calming effect to the students. Thus, it
can help them to focus and concentrate more on the exam questions rather than
developing tests anxiety.
Given the limitations of the study, the
results obtained are not applicable to other types of exam since only a simple
comprehension text was given. Besides, it also may not be the same in different
areas of learning such as Mathematics and Science, which are much more
difficult than reading comprehension.
There are some of the suggestions which
can improve this study including the use of the effect of text color and its
attributes such as italics, bold or calligraphy on enhancing reading
comprehension. Moreover, it may also use
the diverse colors in order to determine the specific influence on improving
reading comprehension. Future studies can also be conducted using a different
sample population to be able to compare how primary students from various
secondary students or universities students perform during reading