Back in the good old days we used pen and paper in classrooms. They were the essential learning tools. Now it’s commonplace to see students take a laptop to class, tapping away to take notes. But which method is superior when it comes to studying? A new piece of research commissioned by Canon claims to have the answer.
Computer vs typewriter picture from Shutterstock
Printer vendor, Canon, commissioned Galaxy Research to conduct a survey on over 500 Australian high school and university students to find out if they study better on paper or online on a computer. A whopping 93 percent of respondents said they have experienced problems studying online with over half highlighting temptation to check social media as one of the key distraction.
Around 39 percent said they found it hard to focus when studying online while 23 percent admitted they struggled to remember what they learned online unless they print out the information and read it on paper. The research also touched on how top performing students preferred the notes on paper method.
I generally take these kinds of studies with a grain of salt, especially ones sponsored by vendors with a vested interest in the results that are in their favour. ‘Printing out notes is better for studying’, said the printer vendor. Do you see the problem here?
Having said that, I am one of those people who prefer to print out documents to read the words on paper. I’m not exactly sure it’s actually a better way of absorbing information but it does give my eyes a much needed break from staring at a monitor. In that regard, I can’t totally pooh-pooh the results.
Here are the key research findings in a neat little list for you:
- Over half (52 percent) of Australian students are tempted to check social media during study periods
- Just under half of all students (47 percent) claim to get easily distracted by messages and emails coming in while half (52 percent) admit they get bored with study and start checking other sites.
- Females are more likely than males to print off notes, highlight and write comments than just
write notes by hand (35 percent compared to 21 percent of males).
- Males are more likely to find it hard to focus on the study online (39 percent) and are more likely
than females to be tempted to play a game or two online when they are supposed to be
studying (39 percent compared to 19 percent of females).
- Almost nine out of ten (86 percent) students printed off something to help them study such as
course notes (62 percent), articles they have found online about the topic (45 percent) and pictures/images (31 percent).
- 87 percent of students mark-up their printed notes in some way including: highlighting important parts (68 percent of all students), underlining important parts (45 percent) and adding hand-written notes to the margins to help them remember important facts (42 percent)
What do you think of the Canon research findings? Do you prefer taking in information through paper or by computer? Let us know in the comments.