Patricia A. Alexander and Lauren M. Singer Trakhman wrote an article for The Conversation titled The enduring power of print for learning in a digital world (October 3, 2017). 

« As researchers in learning and text comprehension, our recent work has focused on the differences between reading print and digital media.  »

« We found that students were able to better comprehend information in print for texts that were more than a page in length.  »

« Across the studies, the texts differed in length, and we collected varying data (e.g., reading time). Nonetheless, some key findings emerged that shed new light on the differences between reading printed and digital content:

  • Students overwhelming preferred to read digitally.
  • Reading was significantly faster online than in print.
  • Students judged their comprehension as better online than in print.
  • Paradoxically, overall comprehension was better for print versus digital reading.
  • The medium didn’t matter for general questions (like understanding the main idea of the text).
  • But when it came to specific questions, comprehension was significantly better when participants read printed texts. »

« One of the most consistent findings from our research is that, for some tasks, medium doesn’t seem to matter. If all students are being asked to do is to understand and remember the big idea or gist of what they’re reading, there’s no benefit in selecting one medium over another.

But when the reading assignment demands more engagement or deeper comprehension, students may be better off reading print. »

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