Paper is Considered an Essential Part of Being Able to Achieve Educational Goals by Roughly Nine in Ten Students (Grades 7-12 and College Level), Parents, and Educators

Most Also Believe That Consistently Reading on Paper Has Clear Benefits

Paper is Considered an Essential Part of Being Able to Achieve Educational Goals by Roughly Nine in Ten Students (Grades 7-12 and College Level), Parents, and Educators

The author(s)

  • Gil Niv Vice President, US, Ipsos Observer
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Chicago, IL — Paper and packaging play an important role in the daily lives of students (grades 7-12 and college), educators, and parents alike, with an average of eight in ten respondents from all groups reporting that paper and packaging are relevant to their daily lives (80%). According to the recent online survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Paper and Packaging Board, college students (87%) are among those most likely to recognize the relevance of paper in their everyday lives, while younger students (grades 7-12) fall slightly below the total average (74%).

Both college students (94%) and students in grades 7-12 (89%) overwhelmingly agree that paper is an essential part of being able to achieve their educational goals. Another 95% of parents with children in kindergarten – grade 12 also agree that paper plays an essential part in helping their children to achieve their educational goals, and nine in ten educators respond the same way about their students (90%).

When it comes to different methods used to learn and retain information, techniques that involve paper are slightly more likely to be preferred over using devices (such as laptops, tablets or smartphones), with roughly two in five saying that they themselves/students best learn by writing information down by hand (43%) or by listening to information while writing notes by hand (39%). More than a third further say that they/students learn best by reading information on paper (37%), and/or reading information on paper while writing notes by hand (34%). Slightly fewer report learning is best achieved when reading the information on a device (33%) or reading the information on a device and writing notes by hand (32%), while about a quarter say that they/students learn best when typing the information on a device (25%) or listening to information while typing notes on a device (23%). Reading information on paper while typing notes on a device (20%) and reading information on a device while taking notes on a device (20%) are least likely to be selected as the best means of learning information, though for one in five these are among the preferred ways to learn.

Use of Paper Tools for Studying

For college students, more than eight in ten (82%) say that they always/often use paper tools such as notecards, handouts, study sheets, or printed lecture PowerPoints when preparing for an exam. This includes nearly half (47%) who always use such paper tools for studying.

Most students in grades 7 – 12 have taken measures to prepare themselves for a test or quiz, including roughly two thirds who have taken handwritten notes (71%), read through materials over and over (68%), and/or created flashcards or notecards (63%) to study. Filling out paper worksheets (58%) and highlighting information in books (51%) are study tactics used by a majority of grade school students over the age of 13, while at least three in ten opt to write the information down over and over (38%), create handwritten outlines (36%), form study groups with classmates (33%), or draw visual representations of what they need to learn (31%). Very few (4%) report that they have never done anything to study for a test or quiz.

When it comes to parents helping their children with homework, the majority (67%) say they feel most comfortable when their child is working with textbooks, paper, and worksheets. On the other hand, just under a quarter (24%) prefer to help their children with homework when using a computer to research or create projects. The remaining one in ten (9%) say they don’t help their children with homework.

  • The proportion who feel most comfortable helping their child with homework when he/she is working with textbooks, paper, and worksheets is up considerably compared to finding from last year’s survey (67% in 2018 vs. 53% in 2017).
  • Two thirds of parents say that they read with their child from a paper book at night (67%).

Thinking about school curriculums, most parents and educators believe teachers should continue teaching/encouraging children to take notes by hand (77%), develop their handwriting/cursive (72%), and know how to do math (multiplication and division) by hand (70%). Nearly as many believe it’s important that children continue to learn how to spell without using spell-check (66%) and understand how to navigate a paper text book (63%). Roughly half of all parents and educators surveyed also believe that teachers should continue to teach/encourage children to read paper maps (56%), use paper for art projects (55%), and use a paper dictionary (49%) in school. Not quite as many think it is important that schools continue to deliver paper report cards (34%).

  • Educators are especially likely to believe teachers should continue to teach/encourage taking notes by hand (82% vs. 74% of parents) and navigating paper textbooks (67% vs. 60%).
  • Parents place greater importance on students learning proper handwriting/cursive (74% vs. 68% of educators) and using paper dictionaries (52% vs. 44%). Parents are also more likely to insist that teachers continue to deliver paper report cards (41% vs. 22%).
  • More than seven in ten parents do agree that their child currently spends more time learning math and spelling on paper than on a computer (72%).

Perceived Benefits of Learning/Reading on Paper

Looking at parents specifically, most recognize the positive impact that reading and writing can have on different aspects of their child’s development. For example, at least nine in ten agree that writing things down by hand has helped their child develop certain skills, such as hand-eye coordination (93%). Nearly as many report they their child remembers assignments better when he or she writes them down on paper (88%) and that they often see their child do well on homework they complete on paper (91%).

In contrast, nearly six in ten agree that they have seen their child have trouble staying focused when they do homework on a computer or tablet (59%), on par with results seen last year (61%, 2017).

Among both parents and educators, it is widely accepted that any student can benefit from reading (or being read to) 15 pages a on paper a day , no matter their literacy level (90% and 92%, respectively) and that reading 15 pages on paper a day can help improve a student's memory and language development (88% and 86%). Most college students (78% and 79%) and students in grades 7-12 (77% and 73%) also agree with these statements.

Roughly eight in ten people surveyed also agree that there are clear benefits to students when they consistently read on paper, though this is especially true among parents (85%), educators (82%), and college students (81%) versus grade school students (70%).

Parents and educators are also among the most likely to believe that students should be encouraged to read at least 15 pages on paper every day (83% and 81%, respectively) and that this is a realistic and effective goal for students to aim for (84%, each). The proportion of college students who agree that students should be encouraged to read at least 15 pages on paper every day (70%) and that this is a realistic/effective goal (77%) drops slightly to roughly seven in ten, while those in grades 7-12 are least likely to agree with these statements (57% and 63%, respectively, though still roughly 6 in 10 surveyed).

Paper-Based School Work as Keepsakes

Nearly all parents surveyed have saved some of their child’s paper-based school work (e.g. artwork, an essay, a presentation) for one reason or another. For at least six in ten, saving their child’s paper-based work was done to show to the child that they are proud (68%), to put up in the home (61%, e.g., on the refrigerator or bulletin board), or to act as a reminder to the child of what they have accomplished (62%). Half of parents surveyed have saved their child’s work to commemorate an achievement and/or to show/send to friends and family (50%), and nearly half have done this so they can include the work in a scrapbook (46%). For more than a third, saving their child’s work is important so their child can see it in the future (37%). Only 3% of parents surveyed say that they have never saved their child’s paper-based school work.


About the Study

These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted March 25 – April 6, 2018 on behalf of the Paper and Packaging Board. For the survey, a sample of 1,803 students and adults ages 13 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. The sample includes 400 college students, 501 students in grades 7-12, 602 parents with children in kindergarten – grade 12, and 300 educators. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ±2.6 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, region, race/ethnicity and income.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,803, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=4.1).

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us. 

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Gil Niv
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Observer
+1 312 526-4612


David Harris
Account Manager, U.S.
Ipsos Observer
+1 310 736-3515

The author(s)

  • Gil Niv Vice President, US, Ipsos Observer