A handout /ˈhændˌaʊt/ is a paper resource that is handed out to students, that has content designed for the students to use.
Content[edit | edit source]
There is no strict specification of the content a handout should have. Usually, the main purpose of the content is to ensure all students of a class have access to the content of the handout. Handouts take away the need for students to recreate the content during lesson time, thus giving students time to do other things, such as making additional notes on the handout, reflecting on the content, or using the content for some other purpose. Handouts are also portable and can be recollected. This makes handouts especially useful for:
- providing instructions
- providing further reading related to the topic of lesson
- providing summaries of the lesson (particularly for revision)
- homework (for practice outside of the lesson)
- assessment (typically from worksheets and past-papers)
Design[edit | edit source]
There are loads of handouts for students readily available online with virtually no limits to the quality and contents of them thanks to desktop publishing. The design philosophy of handouts varies between designer, but some things that typically improve handout quality include:
- Visual effects such as colour, arrangement, fonts and graphics, that reinforce and clarify content, make it memorable and don't distract too much attention from it. Often for graphics and special fonts; the simpler the better.
- Larger than normal prints. This is appreciated by many students, as most don't have 20/20 vision.
- Templates that are used by more experienced teachers, underlying the handout
During PowerPoint presentations, overhead displays, etc., handouts often consist of the slides in a reduced format (thumbnails), typically of four slides to a page.
Distribution[edit | edit source]
Handouts are sometimes distributed by students, giving teachers more freedom to attend to other matters, and giving the students additional responsibility.
Telling students in advance that they will be provided with copies of any overheads, or PowerPoints used in a lesson discourages them from trying to take notes instead of focusing on live presentations.
Limitations[edit | edit source]
Most teachers have access to computers, printers and photocopiers, which makes it possible to create handouts for classes. But very rarely a school will not have access to these facilities.
A more common limiting factor of using handouts in schools is the cost of the handouts; from the paper and ink costs of using printers and photocopiers. Methods to reduce these costs include:
- printing in black and white
- setting classroom seating arrangements that make it possible for students to share handouts if they don't need an individual copy
- using both sides of paper
- printing more than one reduced-size page per side per sheet of paper
- reusing handouts
Another common limiting factor of using handouts is the amount of time available to teachers, for creating them. It's common for teachers to search for handouts instead. Handouts are easily stored, copied and shared between teachers thanks to folders, photocopiers, scanners, fax machines, and the internet. As teachers collect and create handouts over time, the preparation time needed for lessons decreases.