Surprising news from the world of higher education: Despite being digital natives, most American university students prefer to use printed textbooks over e-books. Not only that, but they often end up printing out the digital versions when it comes time to study.
The results were part of a research study slated to be published this fall in the journal College and Research Libraries, according to this article.
From the article: “There are ‘a lot of misconceptions about millennials’ as a digital generation, according to researcher Nancy Foasberg who led the study. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on Foasberg’s research: Several students in Ms. Foasberg’s study expressed a distaste for digital textbooks. Some who had used e-books said they would not use them again because they found the embedded links distracting and because they could not interact with the content as they could with print texts — highlighting or taking notes in the margins, for instance. And since the students found themselves printing out digital texts, whatever money they had saved by not buying printed copies was largely lost to printing costs.”
Foasberg’s study is not the only one to find a preference for print among millenials. Scientific American also reported on the issue last fall.
So why do these young men and women, practically born with smartphones in their hands, have such an affinity for print?
Again, from the article: “Research indicates the brain treats words as physical objects which have a placement on a page but are fleeting on screen. Measures of brain activity are high when a student writes letters by hand, but not when they are typed. Many of us experience ‘drifting away’ while scrolling. Research shows scrolling promotes shallow reading and reduces comprehension. Text provides us with both ‘deep reading’ and context.”
These studies support what the book industry is seeing. The large predicted rise in eTexts (expected to account for up to 18% of all college course materials by this year) has definitely not panned out, proving that once again, print has a power all its own.