An argument for print textbooks

Here’s an interesting article regarding the effect of electronic vs print textbooks on student learning when reading for understanding:

“Our work has revealed a significant discrepancy. Students said they preferred and performed better when reading on screens. But their actual performance tended to suffer.”

The article has lots of interesting observations on things like the scrolling effect, how the purpose of a person’s reading matters in connection to the medium, and how some students with certain reading traits are actually more effective reading electronically over print.

I’m going to use this article to start a conversation with my students about what version of the text they should use for my courses, and encourage them to consider print.  While both Active Calculus and Active Prelude to Calculus are free in .html and .pdf, the print versions of each can be purchased for $21 and $17, respectively.  For many students, it may well be worth the additional money to invest in a print copy.

One comment

  1. Genre is a known challenge in reading. Readers don’t transfer skills from one genre to another. I’d bet that format is a similar thing. We probably have to teach how to read in this format (or how to transfer their reading skills from print). Combine this with the new genre of a textbook or even a math textbook for double the transference problems.

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