Turning to learn: Screen orientation and reasoning with small devices

Christopher A. Sanchez, Russell Branaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


While the prevalence and use of mobile devices to gather important information is increasing rapidly, a critical question is whether information gathering and reasoning with these devices produces acceptable levels of performance, especially relative to more traditional desktop environments? Across two studies, participants were evaluated on their ability to not only remember information conveyed on small devices, but also reason with said information in complex ways. Results indicated that, when compared to a full-size display, there is a reasoning deficit when using a small device. However, changing the small device to landscape orientation effectively eliminated this performance decrement. Further, this orientation manipulation appears to most support individuals who are lower in working memory capacity, as these individuals have been shown previously to struggle with learning from scrolling interfaces. This suggests that consideration of learner differences, through adaptive design, can promote optimal use of small technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-797
Number of pages5
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Mobile devices
  • Reasoning
  • Small screens
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • General Psychology


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