Paper-Based Learning: The Importance of Paper to Students
Integrating technology and learning is a necessity of our time. Students around the world had no choice but to turn to their screens when schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From video calls to educational mobile apps, teachers and parents alike had to get creative to keep kids learning. As we move forward and students eventually return to the classroom, online learning will likely continue to play an important part in our children’s education. But that doesn’t mean you should throw out your paper and pencils. Here is the importance of paper to students.
Impact on Expression
While technology is a necessary part of life, research suggests that students learn differently, and in fact retain more knowledge, when their hands are actively engaged in the writing process. One study specifically focused on how different modes of learning, such as printing, cursive writing, and typing impacted children. Researchers discovered that when they wrote by hand, the children expressed more ideas. Their brain scans also showed greater activation in areas associated with working memory.
Impact on Retention
Another study of 650 students across ten countries noted that although there are clear benefits to the use of computers in learning, some students actually preferred to write by hand. The reason is simple—it helped them retain what they had learned. The author noted, “Many of the students in our study found making hand written notes leads to greater retention of the data than if it is typed and there is a firm belief that retaining new knowledge is more likely to be successful when writing notes during the learning process than when reading or listening online.”
Impact on Processing
Research also shows that note taking by hand forces students to fully process information and re-frame it in their own words. On the other hand, those who take notes on their computers tend to write the lectures down word for word. Those who hand-wrote had to digest, summarize, and select the important pieces of information, which promotes deeper understanding and retention.
Academics have repeatedly shown that the act of producing work independently from memory, without the prompts provided by a keyboard, forces students to engage with their work more deeply. As a result, this helps them commit their learning to their long-term memory.
At Kumon, we understand and value the importance of paper to students and the impact it has on their learning. The Kumon Method reinforces deep learning for children of all ages and abilities by allowing them to practice concepts to the point of mastery before advancing through our curriculum. While technology certainly has its place in our children’s education, it’s unlikely that it will ever fully replace the simple act of writing on paper.