I recently read the following article (http://campustechnology.com/articles/2015/09/01/survey-most-students-prefer-traditional-texts-over-ebooks.aspx) on a survey in which about 72% of students say they prefer traditional text over e-books.

The reasons for the preference are the following:
  • Reasons commonly cited by students for preferring traditional books include:
    • They are easier to read;
    • Students like to physically highlight selections;
    • They're cheaper;
    • Students prefer the formatting;
    • They're easier to navigate and bookmark;
    • E-books make students' eyes hurt;
    • Students find it harder to concentrate on e-books;
    • Traditional books do not require Internet access;
    • Students like to write on the pages;
    • Tablets or laptops are not allowed in class;
    • Availability of e-books is limited; and
    • Students end up printing the pages of e-books anyway.
  • Among the 27 percent of respondents who do prefer e-books, common reasons for the preference include:
    • E-books are cheaper;
    • They are lighter;
    • They don't have to be returned;
    • They are more environmentally friendly than paper books;
    • They are searchable;
    • Print size and brightness is adjustable;
    • They can convert text to audio; and
    • They can be used with apps.

There is a scientific reason for students preferring traditional texts to e-books. As this article (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/) points out, you remember the information in a traditional text easier due to the fact that it has a "real" location in your mind compared to e-books which can be scrolled through but always end up being shown on the same output. Traditional texts offer new “3-D outputs” on each page as well as margin.

That being said, just because traditional texts are preferred, does not mean they are better. Remembering is the lowest level on Bloom's taxonomy and should not be stressed as much as the understanding, analyzing, synthesizing, creating, etc. Being that much of the testing is still didactic, it's no wonder that students prefer traditional texts beyond the reasoning listed above. A shift in how assessments are designed as well as added functionality to e-books will be needed before people start preferring e-books over traditional texts for their studies.

I will be looking for some research about non-academic and more “reading for fun” preferences as they might shed some light on whether the preferences are academically linked.

Bloom's Taxonomy

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