Volume 3, Issue 2 December 2021, pp. 51–66 Download PDF

Regular Articles

Writing medium’ s impact on memory: A comparison of paper vs. tablet

Bradford J. Lee https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9833-56311

1 Fukui University of Technology, JAPAN bradford-lee@fukui-ut.ac.jp

DOI: https://doi.org/10.29140/tltl.v3n2.575


Studies comparing writing media typically compare different modes of writing (e.g., keyboard typing vs. writing, smartphone tapping vs. writing, etc.). The current study sought to investigate the cognitive outcomes of a more direct comparison: tablet- versus paper-based writing. Thirty-two speakers of L1 English were tasked with memorizing 20 Japanese kanji (stroke orders, Japanese readings, and English translations). Ten kanji were practiced (10 times each) on paper; the other 10 were practiced on an iPad. The kanji that were practiced on paper were more likely to be correctly translated into English at both the post- and delayed posttest, though Japanese scores were statistically equal. Of most intrigue was that while both groups were written with equal accuracy at the posttest, only the kanji practiced on paper showed a significant increase at the delayed posttest (after a period of 24 hours). The results of exit questionnaires indicated that the participants were divided on their preference of writing medium but were unanimous in their agreement that tablets should have a place in modern classrooms. One significant finding is that participants acknowledge the difficulty of tablet-based writing but conclude that what is necessary is more practice – not the avoidance or abandonment of the technology.


© Bradford J. Lee

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Suggested citation

Lee, B.J. (2021). Writing medium’ s impact on memory: A comparison of paper vs. tablet. Technology in Language Teaching and Learning, 3(2), 51–66. https://doi.org/10.29140/tltl.v3n2.575

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