Pros and Cons of Print (Module 3 – EDS151)

For those who grew up and went to school before computers and the internet, printed materials were the main form of instructional media. These are the textbooks, workbooks, and handouts that aid a teacher in delivering content in a traditional classroom setting. We have seen effective printed materials, and we’ve seen bad ones too. In the article on Instructional Media: Handouts and Printed Materials of the handbook for NUS teachers, the main objections to printed materials are summarized into 4 major points:

  1. Students become distracted and inattentive and not write their own notes
  2. They tend to spot and focus on examination questions
  3. Students become dependent and not attend class
  4. They do not read beyond the content as outlined and highlighted

We have since moved to more digitalized classrooms where students are now more exposed to individual tablets, powerpoint presentation and other multimedia resources to aid in instructions. Despite all the advancements, a lot of teachers still resort to printed handouts mainly because it’s the most accessible and the most inexpensive. McAlpine & Weston in 1994 summarize how to effectively use print media in 5 elements:

  1. Organization – Structure and Format should be well-organized
  2. Cueing – Cues to help reader locate information on the material
  3. Readability – Appropriate for students based on age, knowledge, level, etc.
  4. Pacing – Rate of transition from one topic to next should facilitate understanding
  5. Accuracy – Like any other media, content should be accurate.

Printed media won’t be obsolete anytime soon, as long as these elements are put in mind when producing such materials. There will still be more students on campus with folded handouts in their backpockets, than those with tablets.


Instructional media: Handouts and printed materials. Retrieved from

Bureau of Instructional Support and Community Services. (2002). Selecting media for the diverse classroom: A handbook for teachers, 4-7. Retrieved from

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