No More Repro!


What is the impact of print free teaching and learning and what are the students’ perceptions of this?

The current Covid crisis has had a serious impact on the everyday functioning of our lives. The education sector, like many, has had to take a serious look at how it operates. The government has advised that all education providers should remain open to all students and huge efforts have been made to explore how teaching and learning can best be maintained whilst allowing for greater flexibility. Many staff and students have had to isolate for different reasons and for differing lengths of time.


This investigation proposes to explore the impact of print free teaching and learning, born out of necessity of teaching exclusively from home. It also seeks to determine students’ preferences for print versus on screen access to texts, after all, many may choose to print the materials in advance of the lesson. There may be some students who don’t have this choice. This research proposes to seek out to what extent these factors might be true.


  • Reduced excessive copying will give students more responsibility and ownership in their learning
  • Students may be forced to engage with material prior to the lesson – flipped learning
  • Students are less likely to ‘lose’ the materials
  • There is a reduction in waste
  • There is a reduction in cost to the college
  • There is a reduction in workload for teaching and repro staff

Research has been previously conducted on the impact of paper versus on-screen printed materials but not within the context in which the proposed study takes place. After all, the current Covid crisis has forced immediate substantial changes to teaching and learning and resulted in conventional in situ face-to-face teaching being impossible to conduct.

Gauging student perspectives is crucial to learn from their experiences and be able to build on developing practices in the future.


Oppenheimer (2019), in his article produced for Impact, the journal of the Chartered College of Teaching, recognises that in recent years there has been a shift towards electronic media being used as a teaching and learning tool within the classroom. He argues that ‘a growing number of studies show that some educational goals are better achieved using traditional pen and paper methods’ and warns that students who use a laptop can be easily distracted by social media and other online diversions.

Research conducted by Dillon, McKnight and Richardson (1998) concluded that ‘reading from a computer screen is more fatiguing than reading paper… [suggesting] that paper may be particularly effective for longer lessons.’

Annand (2008) and Spencer (2006) also reported that there is a preference for reading and learning from paper text which Oppenheimer suggests could ‘lead to motivational difference and an increased willingness to engage with learning.

The findings of this research, produced pre Covid, is all well and good but it does not address the forced nature of remote teaching and learning. As a response to this, the government produced and shared comprehensive guidance entitled ‘What’s Working Well in Remote Education’, published online on 11th January 2021 (  It outlined seven areas of consideration for remote education but, again, did not provide much information specific to paper free teaching. It did acknowledge that a range of approaches were beneficial for effective teaching and learning.

The Education Endowment Foundation also conducted a review of the evidence on remote learning in order to help schools support their students focussing particularly on those from disadvantaged backgrounds. ( Their findings were aligned to those of the government.

A pertinent question considered in the ‘Paper-Free Teaching’ blog (Llewellyn. is “what don’t we need to photocopy?” The blog poses the situation “[i]magine if all of us schools around the world asked ourselves this question before hitting the print button. How many tress would we save every week?” There is no doubt that there would be considerable cost saving implications with 10,320,811 students in 32,770 UK schools alone ( Llewellyn argues that “paper free teaching is […] synonymous with good, [sic] learner-centred teaching” and strategies are provided for paper-free teaching which include greater use of dictation, dialogics and using more student generated task setting.

Education Business UK ( take this question still further and ask “is paper-free teaching possible?” This is a question that the Covid crisis, lockdown and remote learning has forced educationalists to ask and indeed answer.

So far…

The study set out to be conducted with one Y12 English Language class consisting of 18 mixed ability students. One of their English Language lessons a week was conducted purely on-line from the start of the academic year with all materials provided via the interface Microsoft Teams and the other was conducted in a conventional in college classroom and taken by the partner teacher who provided resources in print form. These two lesson formats provide a natural intervention vs control group which is ethically valid as one of the teachers is forced, by Covid and health related issues, to teach from home. Unfortunately, the evolving pandemic situation dictated that from January 2021 to mid-March 2021, both teachers were required to teach exclusively online from home as the country was forced into lockdown. The timing did allow for the students to experience a term of teaching in both contexts so data has been drawn from that time only as opposed to data which had originally been planned to be collected over two terms.

Students completed an online survey in the first half of spring term to gain perceptions based on their experiences of the autumn term, the term that a direct comparison could be made between exclusive online teaching and learning with one teacher and in a class with the other.

Because of the disruptions to teaching and learning, it has been decided that analysis of internal assessment results won’t now be used as a direct comparison cannot be made.

Findings to date

Teacher Expenditure on Reprographics

A comparison has been made with the printing totals for one teaching account from September 2019 to December 2019 compared against September 2020 to December 2020. The first set of figures represent numbers relating to pre Covid and the second set during Covid.


Comparison of number of reprographics made across the first academic term of 2019 compared to the first academic term of 2020


It is clear to see that, apart from an initial request for resources made at the start of 2020’s academic year, huge savings in reprographics have been made as no requests were generated at all while students were being taught remotely online.

Students’ Perceptions Interview Results

Survey carried out via Microsoft Forms in Spring Term 1.

Class = Y12 18 mixed ability (4 male and 14 female)

15 participants took part in online survey (83%)

10 questions asked: 7 multiple choice option closed answer questions, 3 open answer questions

Average time to complete survey 03:06




Comments explaining response to question 6


8. Do you think having either pre-printed resources or online resources directly affects your attainment in the subject?

Comments explaining response to question 8

Other comments relating to pre-printed or online resources for lessons

Qualitative Data Analysis

Do you think having either pre-printed resources or online resources directly affects your enjoyment of the subject?

Do you think having either pre-printed resources or online resources directly affects your attainment in the subject?


Other comments relating to pre-printed or online resources for lessons