Text color and comprehensionFeatured science projectScience project video

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Complexity level:
7
Project cost ($):
20
Time required:
1 day to prepare, 1 day for science fair project
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Basic safety requirements

Abstract

This science fair project was performed to ascertain the effect of text color on the comprehension of students. The science project experiment involved using 5 different essays printed in black, red, blue and green colored text printed on white paper.

Hypothesis

A participants’ comprehension of essays printed in black text on white paper is at its highest.

Background

Text colors and comprehension

Everybody will have a personal preference for the color of the text and background on their personal computers or cell phones. For a software or website developer, it may be impossible to choose a color combination that will be pleasing to all users. They have to think in terms of the preferences of most users.

Choosing the right color for text can be a very difficult and frustrating task. The text can be either pleasing to read or annoying to look at. Dark colored text with a light or bright background, is normally the most preferred choice. It must be ensured the there is enough contrast between the text and the color of the background.

Colors can also affect the readability of text. Poor readability will also cause difficulty in comprehension. It will slow down the reading process.

Scientific Terms

Software, website, readability, comprehension

Materials

The materials required for the science fair project experiment:
- 5 essays of equal difficulty and 10 questions about each essay.
- A personal computer
- A color printer
- white paper
- 10 male students age 12
- 10 female students age 12
- A stopwatch
- A quiet examination room
- An assistant to help coordinate the tests

Procedure

1. For this science fair project, the independent variable is the color of the text  used to print the essays and the10 questions – black, red, blue or green. Ensure that you use a fairly dark shade of red, blue or green otherwise the essays printed in these colors may be illegible. The dependent variable is the results of the test. This is determined by marking and grading the essays. The constants (control variables) are the difficulty of the tests, the number of questions, the time alloted to read the comprehension passage,  and the time allotted to answer the questions.

2. The 5 essays each contain about 300 words and of equal difficulty, are selected. Ten simple questions for each essay are also prepared. The essays and questions are typed into the computer and the color of the text for each essay is set to black, red, blue or green. 20 copies of each essay and questions are printed out in color.

3. Model answers are prepared  for  grading the essays after the test is completed.

4. On the day of the test, all 20 students are brought into the examination hall. The essay printed in black color text is distributed to the students. The students are given only 20 minutes to read the essay  and to answer the 10 questions. After  20 minutes,  the essay and answers from the students are collected  and graded.

5. The students are given a 15-minute rest. After their rest, the essays and questions printed in red color are distributed and the students are given only 20 minutes to complete the test. After the 20 minutes are up, the essay and answers are collected  to be graded.

6.  Procedure 5 is repeated using the essay and questions printed in blue and green.

7. All 4 essay papers are marked and graded using the model answers. The results of the test for the 10 boys and the 10 girls are totaled for each color and recorded in the table given below.

Observation

The results showed that the students were able to best comprehend the essay printed in black .  The most difficult colored text to read and understand was green.

Gender

Text color and comprehension test results

Black

Red

Blue

Green

Boys

83

72

68

53

Girls

86

69

70

60

The chart below represents the results of our science project experiment.

text color comprehension science project

Conclusion

Our hypothesis has been proven correct - a person is best able to comprehend essays printed in black text on white paper.

Computers and cell phones enable the consumer to have control over the color of the text and the background on their screens. One person's preferred color combination, may be irritating to someone else. Not everyone prefers to use black text  on a white background. The black-white combination is in fact, the worst combination for a person suffering from dyslexia.

Also consider

To improve the reliability and accuracy of our results, a larger sample of participants should be used.

This science fair project may be repeated, this time, with participants of a different age group.

Modify the science project experiment, using different colored backgrounds.

References

Color can affect ease of reading - http://www.wdvl.com/Graphics/Color/color2.html

Can different monitor background and text colors reduce VDT eye strain? - http://www.eye2eye.com/f.colour.html

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