The Home Learning Effect and the Benefits of Print in Education

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At the end of March 2022, Sri Lankan students were unable to take their most important term tests. Due to a severe shortage of paper, authorities across the country have postponed these tests indefinitely, impacting nearly 4.5 million students. Would Sri Lankan students be at a disadvantage if they could take their exams digitally? Research indicates that they would. This article explores the role of print in ensuring deep student learning and understanding.

  • Although digital tests are easier to implement, paper is an essential tool in the Sri Lankan education system. In 2020, only 35% of Sri Lankans had internet access.
  • Recent studies in Norway, New Zealand and the United States indicate that students perform better on paper versions of standardized tests than on their digital counterparts.
  • Research confirms that “deeper” reading occurs when a piece of text is consumed in print. On the other hand, reading in digital format encourages “skimming” and only tricks the brain into believing that the content has been fully understood.

By Mark Davis

Introduction

Have you ever wondered what could happen if a country ran out of paper? At the end of March 2022, Sri Lankan students were unable to take their most important term tests. Due to a severe shortage of paper, authorities across the country have postponed these tests sine die— impacting nearly 4.5 million students. These tests are part of the continuous tests that take place throughout the school year in Sri Lanka, and they help determine if a student can move up to the next grade.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, mass digitization has overtaken the world. The education industry has certainly not been immune to this trend, so why not just administer these tests digitally? The tests would be easier to implement and prevent millions of students from missing out on progressing to a new grade level. There is only one problem – as of 2020, only 35% of Sri Lankans had internet access. Paper is an essential tool in the country’s education system. Without paper, everything stops.

Sustained and conscious impression and reading

OK, so paper is certainly necessary for the education industry in Sri Lanka, but what about the rest of the world? Recent studies in Norway, New Zealand and the United States indicate that students perform better on paper versions of standardized tests than on their digital counterparts. In the United States, the negative effects of the digitization of exams are particularly felt among the most vulnerable students, for example those with lower reading levels, those with special educational needs or those for whom English is a secondary language.

While print and digital media both have an important role to play in education, studies have shown that print is extremely necessary for sustained and mindful reading. This also extends to exams. The texture of the paper and the tangible feel it provides in a student’s hand helps focus the mind in a high-pressure testing environment. This can make it easier to understand more nuanced exam questions. Does this mean that Sri Lankan students would automatically be at a disadvantage if they were forced to take their exams digitally? Research indicates that they would.

Print volumes and home learning

There is no doubt that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital learning. During the lockdown phase, digital technology helped ensure that education could continue outside of a physical classroom. Even so, research has consistently shown that digital learning has some shortcomings in understanding and overall academic performance.

According to 2020 and 2021 data from Keypoint Intelligence The future of the office studies, 40% of respondents noticed an increase in home printing due to the increased requirement for home learning. In fact, 61% of 2021 US respondents said their children’s school work was the main reason for the increase in print volume. Given that virtual learning environments and learning management systems require most assigned activities to be performed digitally, why would impression among home learners increase? It is about the benefits that printed materials can bring to the learning process.

Other Benefits of Printing

A 2018 study published in the Education Research Review examined the reading habits of over 170,000 participants. This research confirmed that information comprehension was better when participants read printed content rather than digital content, especially for chunks of text exceeding 500 words. The study also found that “deeper” reading occurs when a piece of text is consumed in print. Meanwhile, reading in digital format encourages “skimming” – the brain is tricked into believing it has fully understood what has been read, but only part of the information is truly understood.

Additionally, print communications allow readers to get a better sense of place when consuming the content. It’s much easier to visualize where you are in a physical book or printed spreadsheet than with the digital equivalents. With this sense of belonging to printed content, the human brain can create “mind maps” that help increase overall comprehension and retention of information.

Marginalia – the act of annotating print – also supports active engagement as you read. Rather than just skimming through the text independently of comprehension and comprehension, annotation slows down the reading process. The reader is thus better able to reflect, decompress and assimilate the information presented. Information that might otherwise have been missed (such as specific nuances or additional knowledge) is more likely to be retrieved.

The essential

Print and digital technologies have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to education. The lockdown phase of the pandemic has intensified the need for home learning, and it has certainly proven that digital education is sometimes necessary to keep learning going. Ultimately, a global health crisis must take priority over in-person learning when lives may be at stake. However, as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, it is becoming clear that print excels in providing of deep understanding and understanding. Going forward, striking a balance between digital and print technologies will be crucial for an effective education process as more and more students return to full-time on-site learning.

As a Research Associate for Keypoint Intelligence’s Content and Publishing Group, Mark Davis is responsible for producing BLI A4 lab test reports, InfoCenter deliverables and blogs for the company’s public site. . He graduated from the University of Winchester and is currently preparing a doctorate. in English Literature from the University of Westminster. Mark previously held marketing roles in an automotive agency working with major OEMs and in the education technology and dental insurance industries.

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