Here at the Printing Report, we’re always fascinated about how reading preferences change across media. 

Now, a new report is providing greater insights into how students prefer to consume information.

The study, coordinated by Diane Mizrachi from UCLA, USA, involving  researchers from numerous countries all over the world, including researchers at Polytechnic Institute of Porto and Porto Accounting and Business School, sought to answer the following questions:

  • Do students’ academic reading format preferences vary internationally?
  • How do behaviors compare across countries?
  • Does the language read impact format preference?
  • Which devices do students use to read e-material?

The study used an online survey to interrogate around 10,000 students at institutions across 21 countries about their reading habits.  The countries surveyed were Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Finland, France, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Moldova, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE, UK and USA.

Better focus and remembering

Across the board, the students surveyed reported that they both remember best when reading print and focus better when reading print.  The UAE, Croatia and Qatar rated print most highly regarding remembering what was read (more than 80% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed print was better for remembering). 

Meanwhile, more than 80% of those questioned agreed or strongly agreed that reading in print was better for focus in UAE, Croatia, France, Italia, Slovenia, Romania, Norway, USA, Lebanon and the UK.

Nowhere did more than 20% of those questioned disagree or strongly disagree that print was better for either remembering or focus.

Print also scored highly for learning engagement; only in one country – Israel – agreed with the statement that print was better for engagement fall below 60%.

Reading preferences

This was reflected in the reading preferences expressed in the survey.  Only in three countries did more than 50% of those questioned prefer to read electronically: Latvia, China and Bulgaria.  Indeed, in nearly all countries 50% or more of those questioned said they would prefer to read entirely in print – Israel and Finland being the only two exceptions.

When electronic reading did take place, it was far more likely to happen on a laptop (78%) than a phone (36%), desktop (30%) or e-reader (28%).

Overall, the survey showed that while there were some variations – for example, there was a preference for reading shorter texts online – these were, by and large, not split along geographical or linguistic lines. 

The finding of the survey was the language of reading does not seem to impact most students’ format preference and the overwhelming preference remains for print.

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