A new survey on e-book use in academic libraries not only confirmed there are more college students who would rather study textbooks and monographs in print rather than digital, but also determined the percentage who prefer print is growing as more students encounter problems with electronic learning materials.
However, when students need to consult reference materials, they more frequently opt to use electronic versions. In part, this appears to be due to the speed and ease of looking up information digitally while working on a paper or project.
The survey, Ebook Usage in U.S. Academic Libraries 2016, a follow-up to a similar one in 2012, was conducted by Library Journal magazine and publisher Gale, a subsidiary of Cengage Learning. The rising preference for print was something of a surprise to researchers, as it was assumed more students would choose digital when they became more familiar with the format.
Librarians who took the survey, though, noted students had difficulties with accessing e-books and sustained reading on-screen. Students also didn’t like limitations on printing or downloading.
A separate survey, conducted by Hanover Research for publisher McGraw-Hill Education, revealed a different reaction from students to digital materials. The 2016 Digital Study Trends Survey queried students who had used adaptive learning technology—digital content that had been specifically created for on-screen access, with built-in interactive and responsive elements to help students master academic concepts.
Eighty-one percent of student respondents thought the technology helped improve their grades, especially the adaptive functions and the online quizzes, and 69% said they were able to focus better on the material.