In present era people use many digital learning resources for education purposes and for getting extra knowledge, it promote healthy environment and also convenience in contrast to printed material. This growing trend impact on cognition and understanding of the user differently.



This study aims to determine the frequency of students who prefer reading on printed text or other digital text and its effects on reading approaches.


This study included a total of 250 samples using a convenient sampling technique. This study was carried out at different Colleges of Rehabilitation Sciences with the age limit of 19-23 year. The data was obtained by self-designed questionnaire based on 15 close ended questions.


45.2% of the students prefer reading printed text while 17.2% of the students prefer digital text. Majority of the students choose availability 51.6% as the justification for preferring printed or digital text. For learning from gadgets 70.8% of the student’s favour cell phones and 2.0% favour computer.


The study indicated that printed reading material is still the first choice in the particular geographical area although the digital text is more convenient. There is a need to discover the explanations that constrain or promote the use of such resource that encourages healthy environment.



Technology, learning, comprehension, reading and digital text


Umair Khalid


Clinical Director

Jag One Physical Therapy

New York, USA

Dr. Vallipuram Anavarathan

Counselling Psychology

Senior Lecturer

Faculty of Applied Science, Trincomalee Campus, Eastern University,

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

[Khalid U, Anavarathan V. Proclivity of E-Reading versus Printed among Generation Z. Pak.j.rehabil. 2021;10(2):78-86] DOI:10.36283/pjr.zu.10.2/011


This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) 4.0



The first vital advancements of digital books started during the 1970s with Project Gutenberg and the Oxford Text Archive. Gutenberg project was coined by Michael Hart in July 1971, as a network venture to enable book accessible to all. Although these advances are here to make the world more productive on the other hand printed textbook is a physical book that has texts, images, etc., printed on paper1.

Along with the historically learned information, there exist various different types of material in information as well as a wide number of modern methods of learning PDF copies of literature and can be extended not just to applications for self-learning, but also for general studying; they can also be used for purpose based education2.

The widespread use of internet for obtaining information is widely seen in modern era. In today’s time people use many digital learning resources for education purposes and for getting extra knowledge3. Digital text can be characterized as; content in computerized structure; as a book changed over into advance structure4. Digital know-how is essential as learning opportunity can arise everywhere, use of smart phones are widely seen for the learning purpose5. Text highlighting, highlights the significant concepts, thoughts and ideas and one of the prevalent ways to self-regulate learning from text6. Although there is agreement on the beneficial impact of highlighting in print reading, it is notable that some studies have discovered that highlighting may be harmful for the comprehension7. Further, numerous universal and national appraisal of understudies proficiency are not exclusively being conveyed carefully but on the other hand are including affordances that are increasingly explicit to advanced media connections8. In today’s era, moving towards digital text is moreover evident in the insightful world, whereas, today, the use of digital text is continually developing 9.

New learners emphasized about electronic reading advancements slowly replacing printed textbooks in the coming era10. The examination analysed the effect of E-books and cell phones in understudies learning and uncovered that having at least two cell phones fundamentally expanded recurrence of getting to E-books, the understudies have investigated their ability to utilizing E-books and portable innovation in the classroom, availability and cost reserve funds were found as an advantage; while usefulness and instructional method were accounted for as downsides to cell phone use11. Furthermore, the emergence of e-books created a paradigm shift in the purchase of textbooks, considering e-book as an alternative to print books.12 Because of this advancement trend, publishers are motivated to create a book in a variety of formats. The books are published in both print-based and screen-based formats13. The use of computer, laptop, tablets and smart phone are increasingly seen in teenagers, especially the use of smart phones can improve their reading comprehension not the use of paper text14.

Whereas some studies showed that the students of high school who reads digital text have notable lesser score in comprehension comparing with those with printed text. Likewise, the students of university have also showed the lower comprehension of digital text as compared to printed text15. one of the study take preferences of community college students regarding retrieve monographs in both printed and digital formats. From 79 completed surveys result indicated that 52% of the participants preferred print text and approximately 39% preferred digital text. While one of the participants (13%) preferred equally both16.

Another study mention that they use digital devices for daily use in their personal life, whereas 98.6% used for school daily17.  Digital text has many advantages over printed text. They are easy to search their topics, no need to go library, easy to access at any place and any time, it takes minimal space, easy to carry, it has better display to visualize things and is time saving18. In spite of these various positive advantages of the e-books, there still are viewed as a disputable instrument, which offer ascent to numerous challenges and the inconveniences of the utilization of digital books in the foundation and colleges for a few unmistakable reasons19. The readers who read from digital text reported increase discomfort and tiredness as compared to those who read from printed text20. When reading from the printed textbook or newspaper article, participants were effective at recalling other applicable information, from the digital verses printed material. Whereas other studies showed that highlighting is good mnemonic strategy by the interpretation of text which enhance memory of attribute and key words6.

In this study author analyse about relationships between the analysing of digital versus printed textual content amongst 1,206 South Korean high university college students the results show, University College students had been place to have increased wonderful perceptions of the reading of printed text; studying desire depended on the purpose for studying21. Research conducted in 2017 indicates that, the majority students prefer to read printed text22. The study was conducted from Qasim University College of Medicine in 2015-2016. The result of the research is male were 64 (66.7%) and females 32 (33.3%). The consequences of the study demonstrated that the understudies incline toward digital text TBL as a course position, as it was a fascination for a large portion of the understudies and making them much progressively effective in the key test and digital text TBL build up the abilities expected to work gainfully in undertaking gatherings23.

Study conducted in 2017 shows that about 92% said they thought best when reading in print, and more than four-fifths reported that whenever cost were the equivalent, they would prefer toward print text for both homework and reading comprehension24. At Study conducted by saleh show that (72%) of the participants preferred printed text and (28%) of the participants preferred digital text. So, it seems that digital book development is moderate yet most of the perusers accept that later on digital book become more prominent than printed books.25 Study conducted in 2016 shows that Digital text was discovered to contain engaging reading characteristics that assist learners to enhance their understanding of reading. This research therefore concludes that digital text is a gradually helpful tool for reading understanding26. A study was conducted to identify if portable digital textbooks would increase the motivation of university students to read by improving cognitive learning strategies and self-regulation of learning. The findings indicate that students use more likely digital text to self-regulated learning strategies than the students using printed textbook27.

The research was conducted in Israel during the first semester of the 2015 academic year shows that males’ academic electronic preference is greater than that of females.28 Study conducted in 2015 illustrate that there is a significant difference between the study groups in academic achievement favour to students using E books which increases their motivation towards the academic and concludes that E – book is more beneficial for the students which makes their life easier.29 Study was conducted in UK on students the sample size of 1700 students in which 82% of the students used smart phones and tablets occasionally and for the study purpose while 18% of the students uses printed books for their assignments the evidence portrait a demanding picture where the combination of hand held digital device being used in flux meanwhile course learning device need to better allow a student flexibility and technology.30 The study conducted from years 2000-2017 analysis revealed that the printed book reading has significant comprehension outcomes than digital reading31. The study conducted to identify the relationship between meta-cognitive experiences and learning for digital text versus printed text. This research has shown that better readers exhibit more meta-cognitive knowledge than poor readers and strategy instruction improve by reading ability32. Study conducted in 2015 conclude that that college students prefer printed books to digital books in both reading format for pleasure and in reading for school33. Study conducted by miller is to identify perceptions of college students of digital textbook and student accepted that the printed course readings were more helpful than computerized course books34. Numerous advantage available in E book increases the prediction that reading E books are advantageous learning tools that that foster fruitful learning experience35.

The objective of our study is to find out the frequency of the students who favor perusing reading on printed text and those who favor perusing reading on digital text and also to find out the different effects on reading approaches.


The emergence of the concept of a “paper-free world” demands a transition from the conventional paper-text approach to digital learning. Our research helps to establish how far the modern age readers have gotten in contributing to a paper free world.


Research Design

Cross sectional, observational


Age limit 19-23 years

Sample Size


Inclusion Criteria

Current DPT students.

Exclusion Criteria

Participants who are unwilling to take part in the study

Ethical Consideration

Informed consent will be taken from participants with adequate level of privacy and confidentiality of participants maintained.

Data Collection Tool and Procedure

The point of this exploration is to determine the student’s preference for E-Reading versus Printed texts. This research was carried out at Colleges of Rehabilitation Sciences in the academic year of 2020 on students. The study design of our research is cross-sectional. The targeted population of this research were students. A total of 250 sample was included in this study, by using convenient sampling technique. The Data was collected by using Self-administered questionnaires from students. The questionnaire composed of 15 close ended questions which include questions regarding Demographic data of participants (Name, Age, Batch, Semester), preference of printed text and digital text, including both advantages and disadvantages of digital text and printed text, health problems/issues (headache, eyes strain, muscle strain, abnormal posture), Effectiveness (effects of digital text and printed text on recalling capacity and comprehension) preference of digital text and printed text, if the cost of both is same and awareness of students regarding world paper free day.

Data Analysis

After completing data collection procedure, the data was entered and analysed into SPSS software 20. Descriptive statistics are used to characterize the sample, both as a whole and academic stratified. This includes the measures of frequencies, percentages and mean ± SD, t-tests and chi-square. No personal data or information was collected from participants as well ensuring the ethical considerations: The study was explained to the participants and the participant was voluntarily involved.


The result of this study shows that the majority of the students prefer printed text which is 45.2% whereas preference of digital text is 17.2% this indicates that the time frame have not changed the preferences of the students and the ratio of both preference is 37.6%. When we ask from students what was the reason of choosing above preference (printed text or digital text), most of the students select availability (51.6%), easy to carry (31.2%), light in weight (10.4%) and cost effectiveness (6.8%).

In the modern era students must use electrical gadgets as a learning tool. When we ask from students’ which gadget they prepare to use for learning. Most of the students select cell phone (70.8%), laptop (20.4%), tablet (6.8%) and computer (2.0%) .When the students were asked about which learning text is time consuming 47.6 % of the students believe that it is time devouring to read printed text while, 52.4% of the students believe that reading digital text takes time.

The increased use of digital text has caused discomforts in students. Approximately the students experience eyes strain (44%), experience headache (36%), feels that sitting in an abnormal posture creates problem (12%) and muscle strain (8%) When we ask from students regarding improvement of memory/recalling capacity while reading from printed text 84.4% students agree that their memory/recalling capacity enhance with digital text reading whereas 15.6% students was not agreed.

Regarding the effects of digital text reading on their comprehension most of the students experience no effect on comprehension (49.9%), other experience increments in comprehension (36%) and decrease in comprehension (14%) (Table: 7). When we ask from student’s which text improves your learning efficacy most of the students choose printed text (52.0%), both text (38.4%) and digital text (9.6%).

When we ask from students regarding the disadvantages of printed text,  most of the students select printed text is heavier in size to carry (40.8%), expensive (24.8%), take lot of space (17.6%) and there is no option to increase text size (16.8%) As well when we ask from students regarding the disadvantages of digital text, most of the students has chosen eye strain (48.4%), battery issues (24.4%), distraction for reader (20.8%) and loss of information all of sudden (6.0%).

When we ask from the students about the awareness of World paper free day, most of the students had no awareness (76.8%), whereas the rest of the students were aware of World paper free day (23.2%) 39.2% students believe that the use of printed text should be reduced to keep the World paper free whereas 60.8% students believe that the use of printed text should not reduce.


The results of this study show most students prefer printed text over digital text. Such studies supported the results of this study in Tsai, C.C 2016, the preference of male and female groups of students were printed text instead of digital text.

In the study Carey, J. 2019 among the students of two year and four-year college printed text were preferred most over the digital text16.  In one more study Millar, M. 2015 results showed the students prefer printed text over digital text34.

In our research, most of the students feels that eyestrain is the main health issue after reading digital text for a longer period of time and many researches related to this are also conclude this, the result of one of the research survey conducted by Kopper M.Mayor S. & Buchner A in 2016 concluded that participants expressed a strong preference of eyestrain symptom after reading digital text35.

In the study Manlu B H in 2017 investigates that screen light is one of the significant reasons of eye strain. To prevent from eye fatigue people who read digital text a lot recommend applying a 20/20/20 rule which is taking a 20 sec break in every 20 min by looking at something 20 feet away from you36.

Regarding learning efficacy 52.0% students choose printed text. According to the researcher Scott. Morris, A., & Marais, B.37 who conduct a research in 2017 in which they find a data through questionnaire and student confirmed the extensive use of digital resources for self-directed learning also has the impact of contemporary learning habits on learning efficacy.

Regarding disadvantages of printed text most of the students says that in reading printed text they can’t increase the font size, heavier in size, take up lot of space, expensive and according to palsdottir who conduct research in 201938-39.


The frequency of the student’s preference for printed text is 45.2%, whereas 17.2% of the students opted for digital text, while 37.6% of the students on the other hand, and choose both. The findings of our research are evident by several studies. Concerning the drawbacks of printed text most of the students select printed text because it is heavier to carry around, whereas most of the students choose eye strain as a drawback of reading digital text.


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