The Importance of Paper-Based Learning

Friday May 22, 2020
By Kumon Canada

While technology is a necessary part of life, and the use of technology is an inevitability of our children’s futures, research suggests that students learn differently, and in fact retain more knowledge, when their hands are actively engaged in the writing process.

A study, by psychologist Virginia Berninger of children in grades two through five, demonstrated that different modes of learning (ex. printing, cursive writing, and typing) resulted in different brain wave patterns and interestingly, different results when tested. When they wrote by hand, the children expressed more ideas and brain scans showed greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory.

Another study of 650 students across 10 countries noted that although there are clear benefits to the use of computers in learning, some students favour hand-writing due to the role it plays in learning and retaining knowledge. The author noted, "Many of the students in our study found making hand written notes leads to greater retention of the data than if it is typed and there is a firm belief that retaining new  knowledge is more likely to be successful when writing notes during the learning process than when reading or listening online.”

Research also shows that notetaking by hand forced students to process the information and reframe it in their own words, whereas those taking notes on their computers tended to transcribe lectures verbatim. Those who hand-wrote had to digest, summarize, and select the important pieces of information, which promotes understanding and retention.

Academics have repeatedly shown that the act of producing work independently from memory, without the prompts provided by a keyboard, forced students to engage with their work more deeply. As a result, this helps them to commit their learning to their long-term memory.

At Kumon, we understand the importance of paper-based learning, which is why our Math and Reading Programs have been advancing students’ skills for over 60 years. The Kumon Method reinforces deep learning for children of all ages and abilities, by allowing them to practice concepts to the point of mastery before advancing through our curriculum.