A Comparison Study of the Use of Paper versus Digital Textbooks by Undergraduate Students

Author/s: James W Johnson, PhD
Availability: Open Access
Type: Dissertation
Year: 2013
Category: Textbooks

Abstract: Today’s undergraduate student faces many challenges. The challenges include paying for tuition and textbooks and finding a job upon graduation. These students are tech-savvy and seeking better ways to learn and retain material they learn in their classes. In addition, the textbook market is trying to evolve by serving this tech-generation through offering digital textbooks and other media-rich materials. New digital textbooks coupled with tablet e-readers are being used to help undergraduate students learn and retain information just as well as traditional paper textbooks. Undergraduate students have strong opinions about the use of paper and digital textbooks including the physical effects of digital e-readers, cost concerns for both formats of textbooks, and the features students want to see in e-readers. This study examined the effectiveness of using digital textbooks compared with traditional paper textbooks in undergraduate courses. Student performance comparisons were used to see if the digital versions have any significant influence on students’ achievement scores versus paper books and if there are any differences between genders. Moreover, regardless of performance outcomes, features of software and devices were explored to determine if these influence use of digital texts. Digital textbooks provide effective learning resources for undergraduate students at cost-effective prices. Features of digital e-readers can help students meet their learning goals and complete their coursework using new, interactive textbooks that pull together the content experts and multimedia.

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