Having Trouble Remembering Your Reading?

Do you ever start reading a book and find that you’re not in love with it? You know, it’s not terrible by any means, but it is not one of those magical books that steal you away from the world. If you are like us P.A. Hutchison workers, you will finish the book. I mean, you still need to know what happens in the end! Not finishing a book is silly… It means you just wasted your time by only reading a part of the piece. Not only that, but what if the book makes up for its slow beginning by having a truly amazing ending?

ONE of the MANY reasons that printed books are fabulous is that a person can gauge how far he or she has gotten in a story and how much is left. How is this possible? The reader can just look at how many pages he or she has read and turned. Digital readers do not offer this. If a person is using a Kindle or any other e-reader to read a book, and the story hits a slow point, he or she cannot see how much of the story they have left. The story seems never ending! Even if the book is amazing, isn’t it satisfying seeing the progress you have made?

It has actually been proven that context endings and visual landmarks enable a person to remember what they just read easier; Time wrote an article on it. While digital readers appear to some as the better alternative to print, maybe they should consider this: studies show printed books have an advantage over digital tablets in remembering what you read long-term.[1]

Psychology students were tested by receiving economic homework they did not have knowledge on in both digital and print mediums. “We bombarded poor psychology students with economics that they didn’t know,” says Kate Garland, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Leicester in England. Garland found more repetition was needed to retain information from digital readings.

Her results also showed that book readers were able to understand the material more fully, even though they had never been exposed to it before. “What we found was that people on paper started to ‘know’ the material more quickly over the passage of time,” says Garland. “It took longer and required more repeated testing to get into that knowing state with the computer reading, but eventually the people who did it on the computer caught up with the people who were reading on paper.”[2]

“Context and landmarks may actually be important to going from ‘remembering’ to ‘knowing.’ The more associations a particular memory can trigger, the more easily it tends to be recalled.”[3] This means while reading a printed book, without the reader even realizing it, physical reference points of the text are being imprinted on the brain. Whether it is remembering something because it was near the top of the page or because that sentence you liked was near the chapter heading, the brain connects these things to memory. It’s the brain’s way of using “the method of loci,” which is the assumption that a person can best remember places he or she is familiar with. By linking something you need to remember with an item or place, in this case context on a printed page, “the location will serve as a clue that will help you to remember.”[4]

According to Craig Mod, a writer for CNN.com who has contributed to published pieces in the New York Times, New Scientist, and Contents Magazine, edges of printed materials are key factors in retaining the information you just read. Mod believes the illusion of a story lacking an ending, as in digital readers, can even go as far as bewildering a reader. He even says digital reading can lead a person to feeling “lost.”[5] Digital readers do not have a visual ending, it is a continuous scroll; this kills a person’s attention span. Readers who choose print do not face this issue.

Do you really want to have to take the time to repeatedly read something in order to “catch up” with those who read the print version? Do you want to feel overwhelmed from your reading? My guess is no. People, especially school students trying to learn, have enough on their “to do list” without having to worry about repeatedly reading an article in order to remember it. Do not waste your time! Read, relax, enjoy, and remember information the first time with print.


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