Do you sometimes struggle to take in information when studying on screen?
As well as using our screens for education, we use them for casual communication and multitasking so are often tempted to apply the same techniques to online study texts – scrolling through at speed and not making a deeper connection. Most of us spend a considerable amount of time on our digital devices and when we’re given something important to read here, like an academic paper, it can be challenging to give it our full attention.
Some experts think that these factors combined with the constant glare and flicker of a screen can make screen reading more taxing than reading on paper, making it harder to retain what we’ve read and contributing to visual and mental fatigue.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then, that many students feel more comfortable printing out their study materials.
Evidence also demonstrates that reading text in a printed form can help you absorb, retain and recall information better; particularly for longer, non-fiction study texts. Reading printed material is a more tactile experience and one in which you are physically involved. It’s something tangible – you hold the text in its entirety and can turn pages, visibly see the beginning and end, and where you are within the document. You can also annotate directly on the page and pick it up to reread and review at your own pace.
If printing is your preference, it’s worth being selective on what you plan to put to paper. Do you need all that material printed out or just a few key sections? It can also be useful to reformat the text before hitting the print button to ensure it is presented in a way that works best for you. For example, change the font style and size to something clear and readable, alter the line and paragraph spacing so the text is easier to follow and text-heavy documents are broken into easy to follow chunks.
So, if you feel you’d absorb something better on paper, print away – it just might improve your comprehension and give you better results.
If you have a disability, long-term health condition, specific learning difficulty or mental health condition that affects your studies, you can access a package of support that’s tailored to your specific needs. See if you are eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA). DSA funding can include specialist software and equipment such as a printer. Get in touch with us today to see what support you could receive through the DSA.