Why is Paper Important in Education & Learning
Updated: Sep 6
Paper is an essential tool in education because it provides a tangible platform for learners to organize and record their thoughts, knowledge, and creativity.This is especially true in the age of digital transformation in education.
Research shows that writing by hand, as opposed to typing on a computer or other digital device, can aid in memory retention and understanding of new information .
Paper is a versatile material that can be used for various educational activities, such as taking notes, drawing diagrams, or solving problems step by step. The tactile experience of writing on paper can help students develop their fine motor skills, which are important for learning and overall physical development. Solving problems using paper is an essential skill that students need to learn, and it is a skill that allows students to organize their thoughts, develop their arguments, and present their findings. One of the key benefits of paper is that it is a cost-effective and readily available resource, making it an accessible tool for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds,especially in areas facing educational inequality.
Paper is also an important tool for educators, as it enables them to share their ideas and research with others and create lesson plans and other teaching materials. Ever since the advent of the printing press, paper has been an integral part of the educational process. Indeed, one could argue that paper is even more important in education today than ever before, given the ubiquity of digital technology. A 2019 study showed that young learners are more engaged when reading from books compared to digital screens . If students stop writing, they may not remember the required number of facts that are needed for tasks that require certain types of fluency, like counting.
Paper is a physical medium that we can use to convey ideas, and we can use it to create various learning materials, from simple worksheets to elaborate textbooks.
Perhaps most importantly, paper provides a tangible way for students to interact with information.
By holding and touching paper-based materials, students can engage with them in a more profound way than they would be able to with purely digital content. This can be especially important in early childhood education, where students are still learning how to process information in a meaningful way.
Several scientific studies have shown writing on paper helps support Math and Language learning.
A small classroom study in 2020 showed that students who were asked to turn in their math homework on paper scored almost double than their peers who were submitting their math homework online . Another study in 2020 showed that writing was positively correlated with learning outcomes in math, science, and social studies . A neuroscience study in 2021 showed that students who read from paper had more positive brain activations than students who read on digital devices .
These studies provide strong evidence that paper is an essential tool for the classroom that positively impacts learning.
In a world where more and more information is being conveyed digitally, it is more important than ever for educators to understand the importance of paper in education. By using paper-based materials in the classroom, educators can help students learn, engage, and think in a productive and meaningful way. Paper-based learning is also free of distraction. While studying on paper, students can focus on what's on the paper with a singular mind, which can help them be more successful.For more insights on the benefits of paper in education, check out our article on how paper can scale edtech to millions of students and the potential of smart paper technology in improving learning.
 Smoker, T. J., Murphy, C. E., & Rockwell, A. K. (2009, October). Comparing memory for handwriting versus typing. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting (Vol. 53, No. 22, pp. 1744-1747). Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.
 Hinkley, W., Heffernan, N., Lee Bouygues, H. (2020). The benefits of using pencil and paper in math.For more on this, read our article on digital test correction and simplifying the grading process.
 Graham, S., Kiuhara, S.A., MacKay, M. (2020. The effects of writing on learning in science, social studies, and mathematics: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research
 Umejima, K., Ibaraki T., Yamazaki T., and L. Sakai, K. (2021) Paper Notebooks vs. Mobile Devices: Brain Activation Differences During Memory Retrieval. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
 Munzer, T. G., Miller, A. L., Weeks, H. M., Kaciroti, N., & Radesky, J. (2019). Parent-toddler social reciprocity during reading from electronic tablets vs print books. JAMA pediatrics, 173(11), 1076-1083.