Print and Paper The Facts

Print and paper play a key role in learning and literacy

When you think about learning, typically you envision students at their desks putting pencil to paper, or listening to a teacher in the front of the classroom. However, today there are a variety of tools that support learning and literacy. Around the world at an increasingly rapid pace, new classroom learning methods and tools, including digital technology, are being adopted. Interestingly, current research reports that there are learning and retention limitations to engaging digital technology in the classroom and as a studying tool when compared to pencil and paper. Two Sides has compiled some eye-opening facts about learning and literacy that demonstrate why print, paper and pencil remain highly effective learning tools. From handwriting, to reading, to comprehension and retention—print, paper and handwriting deliver proven benefits and continue to play an essential role in education and development.

• “Having a wide range of writing skills – from the basic production of letters, shapes and numbers to quality handwriting – has been positively linked to academic performance.”1

• “… Students who read texts in print scored significantly better on the reading comprehension test than students who read the texts digitally”.2

• For young children, the development of handwriting is a complex task requiring the coordination of several cognitive, motoric and neuromotor processes and recent evidence suggests that writing by hand in the early years supports the development of reading skills.3

• “Fine motor writing skills in preschool were consistently stronger predictors of reading and math achievement than fine motor manipulation tasks.”4

• “Elementary students who write by hand are found to write more quickly, produced longer pieces, and wrote more complete sentences than those who do not and handwriting strengthens fine motor skills in young students.”5

• “When children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas. And brain imaging in the oldest subjects suggested that the connection between writing and idea generation went even further. When these children were asked to come up with ideas for a composition, the ones with better handwriting exhibited greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory — and increased overall activation in the reading and writing networks.”6

• Children “remembered more details from stories they read on paper than ones they read in e-books enhanced with interactive animations, videos and games.”7

• Millennials overwhelmingly said they prefer paper. In fact, 60 out of 66 students preferred paper to computer when studying. of letters, shapes and numbers to quality handwriting – has been positively linked to academic performance.”1 • “… Students who read texts in print scored significantly better on the reading comprehension test than students who read the texts digitally”.2 • For young children, the development of handwriting is a complex task requiring the coordination of several cognitive, motoric and neuromotor processes and recent evidence suggests that writing by hand in the early years supports the development of reading skills.3 • “Fine motor writing skills in preschool were consistently stronger predictors of reading and math achievement than fine motor manipulation tasks.”4 • “Elementary students who write by hand are found to write more quickly, produced longer pieces, and wrote more complete sentences than those who do not and handwriting strengthens fine motor skills in young students.”5 • “When children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas. And brain imaging in the oldest subjects suggested that the connection between writing and idea generation went even further. When these children were asked to come up with ideas for a composition, the ones with better handwriting exhibited greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory — and increased overall activation in the reading and writing networks.”6 • Children “remembered more details from stories they read on paper than ones they read in e-books enhanced with interactive animations, videos and games.”7 • Millennials overwhelmingly said they prefer paper. In fact, 60 out of 66 students preferred paper to computer when studying.
Even though it is thought that this generation of students may have adapted to new technology, nearly everyone expressed a preference for paper, usually saying they felt they performed better when reading on paper rather than a screen.8 lightbulb

• Laptops are commonplace in university classrooms and one of their drawbacks is that they offer distractions to note taking. Research on the effects of in-class laptop use on student learning showed that multitasking on a laptop poses a significant distraction to both users and fellow students and can be detrimental to comprehension of lecture content.9

• [Two Sides Summary] – Studies that compare the efficiency and effectiveness of print vs. paperless reading typically agree that print has key advantages. Print readers:

∘ Read more quickly10

∘ Experience less mental fatigue11

∘ Report significantly lower levels of eye fatigue following reading12

∘ Find it easier to concentrate13

∘ Retain more of what they read14

∘ Score better on reading comprehension tests15

• Students frequently need to view more than one text at a time, both in class discussion and when studying. This is difficult to do with e-texts, because e-reading devices often do not allow more than one reading to be viewed on the screen at a time.16

• A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Library Services Survey of 2,252 people age 16 and older found that 81 percent of parents believe it is “very important” that their child read print books, citing the importance of print’s unique sensory and tactile experience.”17

• The tangibility of traditional print also provides a stronger emotional impact, allowing readers to interpret and internalize text through their own experiences and beliefs.18
• Print text allows readers to mentally map information they read in relation to other information or ‘landmarks’ (e.g., a chapter, the left or right page, near the top or bottom of the page). Spatial maps have been shown to improve learning, retention and comprehension overall.1

•Print-based texts are ‘well suited to student needs’ because highlighting and annotating can be performed right on the paper.20 Handwritten annotation helps students relocate important points or citations for use in narrative development.21

•A study of college students at Oxford University found: “… reading on screen was conducive to a more superficial reading style… Attention span and reading sessions were shorter.” Students reported that with e-texts they generally read short passages only and usually in a non-linear fashion. They also reported it required more effort to concentrate when reading on screen.22

• “In a comprehensive study of students at five major universities (Cornell University, Indiana University, University of Minnesota, University of Virginia and University of Wisconsin), most students expressed a preference for print textbooks, an
d generally had a negative experience with e-texts.”23

• “54% of Wisconsin students reported print textbooks provided a better learning outcome than e-texts.”24

• “Negative aspects of e-texts included “poor readability, eye strain, insufficient resolution for graphics, zooming and scrolling difficulties, difficulty annotating, not readable on some mobile devices, and a dislike of reading on a computer or other device.”25• “Minnesota faculty expressed the belief that e-texts did not enhance student outcomes. Some professors reported that their students actually read less than their counterparts reading a print textbook. As a result, faculty preferred printed texts for class instruction.”26

1. Dinehart, L., 2014

2. Mangen, A., et al, 2013*

3. James, K. and Engelhardt, L., 2012*

4. Dinehart, LHB and Manfra, L. 2013. Early Education and Devel. 24(2): 138–161*.

5. Zubrzycki, J., 2012

6. Berninger V.W., et al., 2006. Dev. Neuropsychol. 2006:29(1):61-92.*

7. Jabr, F., 2013

8. Subrahmanyam, K., 2013

9. Sana, F., et al, 2013

10. Nielsen, J., 2012

11. Wastlund, E. et al, 2005*

12. Jeong, H., 2012*

13. Jabr, F., 2013
14. Christensen, A., 2013

15. Jeong, H., 2012*

16. The Trustees of Princeton University, 2010

17. Zickuhr, K., 2013

18. Millward Brown, 2013

19. Jabr, F., 2013

20. Jabr, F., 2013

21. Cull, B., 2011

22. Keller, A., 2012

23. American Forest & Paper Assoc., 2013

24. Internet2 eTextbook Final Project Report, 2012

25. Internet2 eTextbook Final Project Report, 2012

26. Internet2 eTextbook Final Project Report, 2012
*Full article available from journal only

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