Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Digital Textbooks Study Students

Student study habits and learning problems are part of the information available to educators through predictive and learning analytics.This software is now being installed in digital textbooks, giving researchers the opportunity to learn more about how students use the course material.

When CourseSmart commissioned a study of 236 students in a 2013 pilot program, it found that students read an average of 551 pages through a 16-week semester and spent, on averaged, 442 minutes reading their digital textbook. Students used their digital textbooks for 11 days over the semester and engaged in 17 reading sessions, creating an average of four highlights, 42 bookmarks, and 16 notes in the digital material.

“No matter what a student’s prior academic ability, which may not be specifically known, the course instructor can have an unobtrusive real-time method to identify students at risk of academic failure that is not tied to activity on a learning content management system,” the authors of the report wrote.

The report indicated that, generally, the more a student engaged with the digital textbook, the better their final grade. However, engagement didn’t always lead to better outcomes.

“What was especially interesting was that highlighting was related to student course outcomes, although not in the way that you might think,” wrote Reynol Junco, associate professor of library science at Purdue University. “Those students who were in the top 10th percentile of number of highlights had significantly lower course grades than students in the lower 90th percentile.”

Junco attributed the difference to the fact that lower-skilled readers often highlight more text than better readers.

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