Do We Learn Better on Paper?

from, 7/17/13

For a large number of both personal and work-related uses our brains may actually be hard-wired to respond better to information printed on paper.

A study conducted by Winona State University psychologists found that college students who use laptops in class spend nearly one-fourth of a 75-minute class “multitasking” (some of those tasks may have related to the course, but probably not all). The more the students used their laptops, the lower their performance.

Distraction isn’t the only issue. Apparently, people don’t apply as much mental effort to reading on a screen as they do to the printed page. San Jose State University researchers found that when people read on screens they tend to skim and browse rather than focus on the text.

Websites are designed, in fact, to (depending on your point of view) either cater to this tendency or cause it, by limiting most text to bite-sized chunks and bulleted lists, inevitably sacrificing depth. A study by web usability expert Jakob Nielsen found that a website visitor will read, at the most, 28% of the words on a typical web page; 20% is more typical. “Scanning” is the term that Nielsen uses to describe how a webpage is read.

See also in ClassWise: “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades”

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