College students still lean toward print formats for their course materials, but they’re using more digital materials these days.
The newly released survey analysis from NACS OnCampus Research, Student Watch: Attitudes and Behaviors toward Course Materials: 2015-2016 Report, showed the largest block of students still prefer to study from traditional print books. However, there was a slight uptick in students—26% in the last academic year, as opposed to 24% the previous year—who would rather use a print/digital bundle. Bundles usually include a print textbook plus online access to a digital version of the book in addition to other materials and study aids.
About 17% of students say they could go either way when it comes to print or digital, depending on the nature of the particular course. Approximately three-quarters of survey respondents had experienced digital course materials for at least one class, sometimes because the instructor required its use to fulfill online assignments.
When students have a choice between digital materials or print, paper wins out as being easier for studying, including being able to flip back and forth as needed and causing less eye strain than a computer screen. The main advantage of digital is convenience—not having to haul a heavy book around campus—but 45% of students said they purchased digital because it was cheaper.