Another Page in the Text Versus E-reader Debate
Although numerous studies have concluded that people comprehend what they read on paper more thoroughly than what they read on screens--albeit the differences are often small--researchers are now turning their attention from short-term comprehension to long-term memory. A study at the University of Leicester asked 50 British college students to read study material from an introductory economics using a computer monitor or a spiral-bound booklet. After 20 minutes of reading the students took a multiple-choice quiz. Students scored equally well regardless of the medium, but differed in how they remembered the information.
Remembering something is to recall a piece of information along with contextual details, such as where, when, and how one learned it; knowing something is feeling that something is true without remembering how one learned the information. Remembering is a weaker form of memory that is likely to fade unless it is converted into more stable, long-term memory that is "known." Students who had read study material on a monitor relied much more on remembering than on knowing, whereas students who read on paper depended equally on remembering and knowing. The researchers concluded that students who read on paper learned the study material more thoroughly more quickly; they did not have to spend a lot of time searching their minds for information from the text, trying to trigger the right memory—they often just knew the answers.
Turn it Off and Come to the Library
Photo credit: flickingerbrad
Paula Hess is a Brisbane Public Library Intern.