Despite the surge of e-books and online aid, more students are opting to choose the traditional physical copy of a book to study.
According to an article titled “Back to the basics: Studies show students prefer physical textbooks” published by USA Today College, Internet2 coordinated a pilot program that found “many students do not find e-books user-friendly and prefer traditional textbooks.”
Another study at The City University of New York concluded college students prefer to read lengthy academic passages in old-fashioned print books.
“I would not agree,” Lindsey Ewert, special education major, said. “It is easier and more convenient [to study] with e-books. You do not have to go to the store and buy a different copy of every book. It’s nice to finish a book and be able to start a new one right from your e-reader.”
The participating universities in the study included Cornell, Indiana University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin. Each of these schools were paid $20,000 for the necessary technology equipment and e-books for up to 1,000 students.
According to the USA Today College article, “Of participating students, 88 percent purchased the e-books due to lower prices and portability while the remaining 12 percent chose to use print books.”
With students spending an average of $1,168 on textbooks each year, according to collegeboard.com, a possible reason for the switch to e-readers is it is giving students a way to rent or buy their books for lower cost.
“I prefer the physical book,” Carter Muvihill, senior journalism major, said. “They’re cheaper because you can usually find them used. It’s easier to find information in books as opposed to scrolling through an e-book.”
Nonetheless, after using the e-books, the article states, “many students cited difficulties in navigation and readability.” Students also complained of eyestrain after studying electronic texts for hours.
From the study, the material indicated e-readers obstruct cognitive mapping, or “the mental structuring process that allows people to use physical and positional cues to retain information.”
Additionally, it was found that students typically used e-book readers for leisure reading, but opted toward print books for academic reading.
“I would definitely say I use print books more to study than e-books,” Annie Toussaint, senior English major, said. “I like to take notes in the margins and highlight important details, and with e-books you don’t always have the ability to do that.”
In contrast to cognitive mapping effects of e-books, physical print books have tangible pages with stationary layouts.
According to the Internet2 study, this allows readers to associate location and position of text with content.
So for now, physical books still remain the resource used to study.