Is paper finally being ousted as a tool in classrooms in favour of digital devices? Statistics indicate that the answer is a resounding no. Despite the rise in popularity of digital devices such as tablets, and the availability of educational resources online, paper is still an important tool for productive learning in and out of the classroom.

The Paper and Productive Learning: The Second Annual Back-to-School Report surveyed 4,300 students, parents and teachers this year in the United States to gain their views on the use of paper for productive learning, and an insight into their own usage of paper.

Paper in the classroom

According to the results of the survey, the majority of teachers rely on paper-based learning in their classes, and believe that this is what is best for their students’ learning. Teachers also believe that paper will still be vital to classroom learning in the future, with 83% of respondents saying their school should continue investing in paper textbooks.

It wasn’t just the teachers that felt this way either; the students surveyed were 1.5 times more likely to say that they learn better when taking lecture notes on paper. College educators also preferred paper when marking their students work as they felt it was more personalised and efficient.

Paper out of the classroom

Paper also plays an important role outside of school. When preparing for tests, 74% of students in grades 7-12 use paper materials when studying, including flash cards, worksheets, and handwritten notes. Digital resources provide many more distractions to students than paper does, because they’re just one tap away from a game or website to take away their focus. The students themselves can even identify this, shown by the fact that students who always use paper resources to study were more likely to consider themselves as focused than those who don’t always use paper.

Parents also agreed with the superiority of paper. Almost all of the parents surveyed said they keep their child’s paper-based work. After all, you can’t stick an iPad to your fridge to show off your child’s latest artwork! Parents were also more likely to help their child with their homework if they were working on a paper assignment as opposed to on a computer. This not only helps the child’s education through support from their parents, but also helps to cultivate the relationship between a child and their parent.

Paper is clearly not a thing of the past, as students, teachers, and parents alike all prefer it as the primary productive learning tool.