Paper or E-Paper: In Search for the Optimum Medium for Study
- Matthew Ting, Health Sciences Division, California State University Dominguez Hills
- Paul Narguizian, Department of Biological Sciences, California State University Los Angeles
Nowadays, many students study and prepare for exams on electronic screens rather than on traditional paper. The purpose of this study is to explore which medium – paper or e-paper – is more cognitively conducive to academic achievement. The hypothesis is that electronic screens will compromise academic achievement when used for study. Students naturally adapt their study habits to optimize learning outcomes if one style is perceived or proven more efficient than another in boosting their academic performance and brightening their future. This study utilized Peterson memorization quizzes to test 30 research participants’ performance. The control group studied on paper while the experimental group studied on electronic screens with distractions of their choice, such as Facebook, Youtube, or Skype. Eighteen common nouns were randomly displayed and each participant was given 90 seconds to memorize as many words as possible. Both groups had similar results in highs and lows. Sixty-seven percent of the control group memorized over 12 words, while sixty percent of the electronic-screen group memorized over 12 words. Although there was a slight variation, all of these students memorized the words by grouping them or combining them into sentences. The other 33% of the control group and 40% of the technology group used inefficient strategies, such as memorizing the words in order. Cognitive acquisition seemed to revolve around the method of studying, not the medium of study material. The results also indicated that distractions did not have a large impact on concentration, at least for short-term memory. The findings in this research were inconsistent with the original hypothesis. Therefore, students can continue studying with electronic screens of desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones without worrying about disadvantages over their peers studying on plain paper. This experiment also calls for further research on long-term memory retention over the two media.