Do We “Know” More When We Read On Paper?
Lorien Crow, writing on Mobiledia:
“A small but growing number of researchers are uncovering evidence that readers are better able to remember what they read in printed books long-term when compared to materials read via an electronic screen. The results are raising questions on their value as learning tools, especially as tablets make their way into education.
As tablets become more prevalent, scientists are finding differences in how the brain interprets printed text and digital text, a major concern for parents and educators if tablets are to become a primary teaching tool. Kate Garland, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Leicester in England, conducted a study on the effects of e-books on memory, ‘bombarding’ psychology students with questions on economics after reading digital and printed versions of texts, and finding two key learning differences.
First, students using digital versions of the unfamiliar material had to read the same information several times to gain the same level of knowledge as print readers. Second, students reading printed books seemed to more fully digest and understand the material.
Garland explains that memories come either from ‘knowing’ something so well it ‘just comes to you,’ or ‘remembering’ it by first deciphering the context and then recalling the answer. ‘Knowing’ is the higher form of memory, because these thoughts arrive faster and more seamlessly.
‘What we found was that people on paper started to “know” the material more quickly over the passage of time,” says Garland. ‘It took longer and… more repeated testing to get into that knowing state with the computer reading, but eventually the people who did it on the computer caught up with the people who were reading on paper.’”
There’s much more in this fascinating article—i urge you to read it, here, and tell me what you think.