READING PRINTED MATERIALS PROVEN TO RESULT IN BETTER LITERACY OUTCOMES
Students who read printed books more frequently perform better in reading, spend more time reading, and enjoy reading more than students who read more from digital devices. Reading digital texts more frequently even shows a “negative association with reading performance”. These are among the headline findings of a new OECD/PISA report: 21st Century Readers: Developing Literacy Skills in a Digital World.
In a compelling report published this week, PISA, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, affirms that students perform better when they read from printed materials rather than digital devices. This research sends a clear signal to parents and education providers that more must be done to safeguard reading in print for the future of education.
Overall, approximately one-third of students rarely or never read books, according to the OECD/PISA report. Whereas one-third read books more often in paper format, 15% read more often on digital devices, and 13% read equally often in paper and digital formats.
These figures are alarming. While it is positive that printed books remain the preferred medium for reading, two-thirds of students are not reading enough – or enough in print – to obtain the best chance of developing strong literacy skills. This will have far-reaching ramifications. Developing strong literacy skills is crucial in our knowledge-saturated digital societies. Young people must be given the best tools to navigate digital environments autonomously and cut through the noise of ‘fake news’ and disinformation. The best tool for reading is proven to be print.
The OECD is not the first to publish such clear findings. Intergraf has long promoted the results of the COST Action E-READ Initiative, a large-scale research including meta-study, which found in 2018 that reading printed materials is better for young people’s education outcomes when it comes to comprehension, concentration, critical thinking, and deep-reading.
It is firmly established that print is the best tool for developing the necessary literacy skills to thrive in our digital world. We urge education professionals across Europe to heed the advice of this OECD/PISA report (and other research) by actively promoting printed reading materials in schools. You can find more of our recommendations in this position paper on digital education.