Paper assignments encourage interactivity in classrooms

Maddie Shaw

As a result of Schoology’s integration into the learning curriculum, computer use has increased for assignments and assessments. With the growth in computer utilization, paper resources for day-to-day classwork have diminished, leaving students with insufficient interaction with peers and little classroom involvement.

As students silently complete work on the computer, they are isolated from the classroom around them, and prevented from interacting with the students. Group work is a scarce activity as each student may have to turn in their own version of the group work. There is no communication, and it is as if students have returned to the familiar ways of online school.

With our return to in-person learning, interaction should be encouraged to promote the cultivation of new ideas and the formation of friendships while also straying from the desolate classroom of virtual learning. Instead, the incorporation of computers has furthered students from the collaborative classroom they seek.

When testing, many students perform better when they can work on paper. From annotating a passage to showing work for math problems, with the information physically in front of them, students can easily transfer their thought process to questions on assessments. A study by the British Journal of Educational Technology shows that students who participate in lessons on paper performed 24 percent better than students who participated in those same lessons digitally. When testing online, students can make mistakes they usually wouldn’t make on paper. They may get the work for one problem confused with another, meaning online assignments can complicate the day-to-day workload of students.

Additionally, online materials make students more inclined to cheat. According to a study on Academic Integrity in the Age of Online Learning, 93 percent of instructors believe students are more likely to cheat in online school. Even though students have returned to in-person learning, computer-based classwork still applies to many of the concepts of virtual school. With unlimited access to the internet, students may be tempted to utilize the enormous resources a computer presents. While there are protections in place, such as Securely, which is placed on school-issued laptops and allows teachers to monitor students’ computer activity, those platforms aren’t consistently used by all teachers, and students can avoid them by bringing their personal computers to school. As a result, cheating can still occur.

With the use and access to computers, students can fall into a pattern of sustained cheating to maintain high grades. If other students are participating in cheating, they may feel their actions are condoned. Research from the American Psychological Association shows that seeing peers engage in cheating increases one’s own inclination to cheat. Therefore, an online resource, such as a computer, can reinforce cheating.

To prevent computer overuse, there should be a healthy balance between online and paper assignments since it is improbable computer use will be completely restricted. This way, an environment is created where students have an array of schoolwork to complete, while also allowing for an engaging classroom. When students complete the same mundane assignments, they often become uninterested in their lessons and find it difficult to summon motivation. If diverse forms of schoolwork are given, students can be encouraged to challenge themselves while remaining focused.