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Monday, September 11, 2017

Paper Still Has a Place in Digital Times

Despite the proliferation of electronic devices in classrooms today, the vast majority of college students (93%) and seventh- through 12th-graders (87%) still see paper as an essential component for reaching their educational goals. While these numbers come from an understandably print-biased source—the Paper and Packaging Board’s Paper and Productive Learning: The Third Annual Back-to-School Report—they jibe with many other recent studies.

In the report, almost 95% of parents said they see their children do well on homework completed on paper, while more than 72% noted having seen their child have difficulty staying focused when working on homework on a tablet or computer. More than 88% said their child remembered assignments better when he or she wrote them down on paper.

The youngest students surveyed, seventh- and eighth-graders, agreed that they learn information best when they write it down by hand. Slightly more than half of college-age students still gave the same answer, and 81% said they always or often use paper tools to prepare for tests.

A Princeton University researcher told NPR that people who type onto a device during a lecture attempt to take their notes verbatim, while those who write their notes longhand are “forced to be more selective—because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material they were doing benefited them” in their learning.

Surprisingly, there isn’t as much research as one would expect exploring the benefits of and differences between reading on a screen and on a page. A recent paper published in SAGE Journals’ Review of Educational Research found that of 878 relevant studies published from 1992-2017, just 36 directly compared digital vs. print reading and reliably measured learning by the two methods.

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