Due to technological advancements such as text-to-speech software, reading while listening (audio-assisted reading) is widely available. However, the findings are mixed on the effectiveness of reading while listening as a tool to improve comprehension. The purpose of this study is to synthesize existing studies on reading while listening to determine for whom and under what circumstances reading while listening is helpful. A systematic review with a meta-analysis was conducted in which 30 eligible studies (total N = 1945) with 62 effect sizes were examined. Using robust variance analysis, a trivial overall benefit of reading while listening over reading only on comprehension was found g = .18, SE = .07, p = .01. Based on a meta-regression, this benefit appeared to be limited to studies in which reading was paced by the experimenter, g = 0.41, SE = 0.12, 95% CI = [0.13, 0.70], p = .01. There were no reliable effects of reading while listening when reading was self-paced, g = 0.06, SE = 0.06, 95% CI = [-0.07, 0.19], p = .34. Struggling readers’ overall comprehension and second language learners’ incidental vocabulary acquisition may be benefited through audio-assisted reading, but there are currently too few studies to afford generalizations on these claims.
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