Embracing a Healthy Family: Can Students Learn More Effectively from Print Textbooks?

Can Students Learn More Effectively from Print Textbooks?




So many parents and schools are turning to eLearning as it's convenient especially with the trend towards eLearning days with various schools. It sounds good from the ease of being able to provide less books to carry and the fun notion of everything electronic but is it really a better alternative. Ignoring the entire cost aspect and the breaking the screen fear that probably many parents have, there has been a debate on the potential harm devices can do to children. There are stories about how Steve Jobs never let his children use the devices at young ages and then there is the concern of new types of ergo injuries from the use of fingers, wrists and arms to posture problems. There seems to be a host of potential con's associated with devices and the newer growing concern is the effectiveness of reading and retention. 

A new study authored by Patricia A. Alexander and Lauren M. Singer, conducted a review of the literature since 1992, found that students were in fact, able to better comprehend information in print for texts longer than a page in length. They attribute it to perhaps to the disruption factor of having to scroll to the next page which to me, makes sense. They furthered the hypothesis by conducting three studies to explore college level students' ability to comprehend information on print versus screen. Overall, the students preferred to read on a screen and read faster but the research questions asked of them showed their comprehension was higher with the printed medium.

I've also read in other literature that students who write their notes from lectures versus typing them into a laptop tend to retain the information better as well. It seems that perhaps the school systems have jumped in too fast to embrace technology at a time when it appears students are already struggling making the grade. Perhaps we, as a society, should relook at all the eLearning options out there and return to the old school methods? As devil's advocate, maybe the researchers aren't looking at it the right way and the comprehension could be achieved if a better mode of learning went hand in hand with the eLearning options.  For myself, I utilize a mixture with my children relative to some online courses, some via documentaries and others in the form of print material. 

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