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Students differ in preference of textual aids

Micah Mills

Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 00:01


Chase Krumholz

Some students prefer the increasingly popular tablets as academic resources to carrying books from class to class.

When the first day of a semester rolled around 10 years ago, a college student would have been buying his or her books, paper and pens to prepare for class. Never would they have considered that the bulky desk computer sitting in front of them would transform into a portable device, and in just a few years.

In the current day and age, technology has become a driving force in everyday life. It is becoming evident that new technological developments are catching the attention of all age groups, especially college students. It affects the way they learn, communicate and live their day-to-day lives.

New technology is not only being developed for convenience, but also to aid in the learning process. A recent development utilized on college campuses is the use of electronic books, or eBooks, as a replacement for normal textbooks.

“It’s easier to carry around a device that has electronic books on it than to carry around textbooks,” Kelli McCosham, sophomore animal science major said. “It’s also more ‘green’ and is probably cheaper overall than textbooks.”

There are several obvious reasons that the use of electronic textbooks may be seen as an advantage for a typical college student. One pro is the amount of information students can carry on a single device, whereas with textbooks a separate book is required for each course.

Mikaela Hugo, junior biology major, said she buys textbooks on her tablet whenever they are available because she can store multiple on one device.

“Tablets weigh less than a textbook and can have multiple on it, so I don’t have much of an excuse to leave it at home,” Hugo said. “A lot of times buying the textbook on a tablet is more affordable than buying the physical copy.”

However, old habits die hard, and many students still find themselves married to the print edition of textbooks.

“I am used to studying with textbooks and I don’t see a reason to break tradition,” Heather Martindale, junior education major said. “Not to mention studying with my iPad gives me full access to the distractions of the Internet.”

When delving deeper into the reason why students prefer the print version of textbooks, it was shown that it is more than just students wanting to stay with the familiar. Whether it is realized or not, a big part of the reason print is often preferred can be explained by a study from Miratech, a French research firm that analyzes reading patterns and retention rates.

The study showed that retention rates after reading a printed text are substantially higher than retention rates after reading an online version of the same text. It was shown that people concentrate more when reading the actual printed version of a text.

Acacia Jarvis, junior mechanical engineering major said that she would rather have the material physically in front of her, as opposed to on a screen.

“I just like flipping through the pages of a book,” Jarvis said. “There is something about reading a book that a computer screen doesn’t have.”

Although most students are aware of the benefits of using eBooks, many are wary of the day that paper copies become replaced.

“Physical textbooks are so much easier to read,” Jeff Cohen, sophomore meteorology major said. “But if tablets keep getting more and more popular, they will probably replace textbooks.”

A study called “Internet2,” conducted jointly by the University of Wisconsin, Cornell, the University of Minnesota, the University of Virginia and Indiana University investigated the reason behind this generation’s reluctance and overall slow adaptation to the use of electronic textbooks.

The study discovered that even weighing in the cost benefits and improved portability that eBooks would provide, students still found navigation issues, headaches caused by increased eyestrain and reduced readability reason enough to stick with what they know.


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