A Majority of Students (Grade 7-12 and College) and Parents Agree That Paper is an Essential Part of Being Able to Achieve Educational Goals

Eight in Ten Further Agree That Paper and Packaging Play Relevant Roles in Their Daily Lives

A Majority of Students (Grade 7-12 and College) and Parents Agree That Paper is an Essential Part of Being Able to Achieve Educational Goals

The author(s)

  • Gil Niv Vice President, US, Ipsos Observer
  • David Harris Account Manager, US, Ipsos Observer
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Chicago, IL, July 17, 2017, 2017 — According to a recent online study conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Paper and Packaging Board, roughly eight in ten students/parents (79%) say that paper and packaging is extremely/somewhat relevant in their daily lives, and this is especially true for college students (86%) and parents with children in kindergarten-grade 12 (81%) versus students in grades 7-12 (73%).

When it comes to different ways to learn information, writing the information down by hand (42%), reading the information on paper (38%), and listening to the information (38%) are selected as being among the most effective. Listening to information while writing notes by hand (36%), reading the information on paper while writing notes by hand (35%), and reading the information on a device (34%) make up a secondary tier, with at least a third saying these are some of the best ways for them to learn information.

  • College students are especially likely to report that writing down the information by hand helps them best learn information (50%) compared to younger students (43%, grade 7-12) and parents (34%).
  • Listening to the information while writing notes by hand (33%) and reading the information on paper while writing notes by hand (30%) are seen to be much less relevant for parents when compared to students.

Fewer report using devices when seeking to learn information, with just under three in ten saying they learn best when reading the information on a device and writing notes by hand (29%) or typing the information on a device (28%). Listening to information (24%)/ reading information on paper (22%) while typing notes on a device are rated as among the best ways to learn by just over one in five, while similar proportions say the same thing of reading the information on a device while typing notes on a device (21%).


Most parents report helping their children with homework, including 53% who say that they feel most comfortable helping their child when working with textbooks, paper and worksheets – versus 37% who are more comfortable when it comes to using the computer to research/create projects. The remaining 10% state that they do not help their children with homework.

  • Two thirds of parents say that they read to their children from a paper book at night (66%) – especially Millennial parents (81%, 18-34), those who are more educated (70%, 2-year degree or more), and those with 2 or more kids at home (72%).

Nearly all parents surveyed believe paper is an essential part of children being able to achieve their educational goals (96%), and most say that their children do well on homework that is completed on paper (88%). Nine in ten further agree that writing things down by hand helps their children develop certain skills, such as hand-eye coordination (89%), while similar proportions feel that their children remember assignments better when they write them down on paper (86%).

On the other hand, six in ten admit that they have seen their children have trouble staying focused when doing homework on a computer or tablet (61%).

When it comes to non-digital practices taught in school, parents are especially likely to think teachers should continue teaching or encouraging taking notes by hand (67%), multiplication/division by hand (64%), handwriting/cursive (63%), spelling without using spell-check (55%), navigating a paper textbook (55%), using paper for art projects (55%), and reading paper maps (55%). Sizeable proportions also think that using paper dictionaries (48%) and delivering report cards on paper (40%) should be encouraged in schools. Very few parents (3%) believe that teachers should not continue to teach/encourage any of these non-digital practices.

  • Nearly three quarters of parents report that that their children are currently spending more time learning math and spelling on paper than on a computer (72%).

Paper-based school work (e.g. artwork, an essay, a presentation) is often saved by parents, most often to show their children that they are proud of them (59%), to remind children of accomplishments (55%)/commemorate an achievement (48%), or to be displayed in the home such as on the refrigerator or bulletin board (54%). Another two in five have saved their children’s paper-based school work to show/send to a family member or friend (43%) or to put in a scrapbook (40%), while 35% are saving their child’s school work to show them later in life. Fewer are saving school work for their child’s future college application (18%). In contrast, only 4% of parents have never saved their children's paper-based school work.

Students in Grades 7-12 (ages 13+)

Younger students also recognize the importance/relevance of paper within their academic lives, with nearly nine in ten (87%) agreeing that paper is an essential part of being able to achieve their educational goals.

Taking handwritten class notes (70%), reading material over and over (66%), creating flashcards/notecards (60%), or filling out paper worksheets (58%) are among the most common tactics employed by students in grades 7-12 when studying for a test/quiz, while roughly two in five also highlight information in books (48%), create handwritten outlines (40%), or write down information repeatedly (38%). Three in ten opt to organize study groups with their classmates (35%) or draw visuals of what they need to learn (31%), and one in ten (11%) mention doing something else to study for a test or quiz. Only 4% of students in grades 7-12 say that they have never done anything to prepare for a test.

College Students

Most college students describe themselves as focused (53%), hardworking (52%), and successful (50%), while at least two in five also say that they are curious (43%), engaged (41%), and disciplined (40%) students. Negative traits such as being distracted (21%), lazy (13%), or disengaged (7%) are used by fewer to describe themselves, while 1% mention something else.

Nearly all college students agree that paper is an essential part of being able to achieve their educational goals (93%). When it comes to preparing for an exam, just over eight in ten (81%) report always/often using paper tools, such as notecards, handouts, study sheets, or printed lecture PowerPoints.

Reading 15 Pages

When informed that scientific studies have concluded that there are many benefits to reading on paper, a large majority affirm that they believe reading 15 pages on paper per day can improve language (91%)/mental (92%) development and help with memory (92%). Another eight in ten also believe that reading at least 15 pages on paper can help to reduce stress (80%).

  • College students and parents are significantly more likely to believe that reading 15 pages on paper per day can provide all the benefits listed above versus students in grade 7-12 who say the same.
  • Thinking about their own reading habits, parents/students estimate typically reading over 20 pages on paper per day – that is, physical books, magazines or anything else they read on paper - with students in grades 7-12 among those most likely to be reading physical paper material (average 30 pages vs. 27 pages, college students; 24 pages, parents).

About the Study

These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted on April 17 – 24, 2017 on behalf of the Paper and Packaging Board. For the survey, a sample of 1,407 respondents between the ages of 13-60 from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. In order to qualify for the survey, respondents had to be in school (college or in grades 7-12) or be the parent of a child in grades K-12.  

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 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. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.0 percentage points for all respondents (see link below for more info on Ipsos online polling “Credibility Intervals”). 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=1,407, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=4.5).  

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



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The author(s)

  • Gil Niv Vice President, US, Ipsos Observer
  • David Harris Account Manager, US, Ipsos Observer