Sarah Harper May 22, 2013 EDET780 Critique #1 Introduction For this paper I have chosen to critique a study examining

the effectiveness of e-textbooks vs. print textbooks (Rockinson- Szapkiw, A., Courduff, J., Carter, K., & Bennett, D. (2013). Electronic versus traditional print textbooks: A comparison study on the influence of university students' learning. Computers & Education, 63, 259–266. doi: http://dx.doi.org.pallas2.tcl.sc.edu/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.11.022>) The purpose of this study as stated by the authors was to “examine the efficacy of e-textbooks defined as grades and perceived learning as compared to traditional textbooks when used by residential and online university students for undergraduate and graduate coursework.” The research question is clearly stated by the authors. This study was conducted at private university in the eastern United States with both online and residential students. The study used a sample of 538 graduate and undergraduate students in 59 education courses. The researchers selected courses where the primary textbook was available in both print and e-textbook format. Students were allowed to choose which version of the text they wanted to use. Students used the textbook in their format of choice throughout the semester. Results for the study were collected using a web-based assessment that had questions relating to their textbook choices, textbook use, study habits, and learning. Students’ grades were obtained from Blackboard. The Perceived CAP Learning Scale was used to assess students’ perceived learning. The study showed a number of results that are useful for researchers and educators. Almost 90% of the students (in the e-textbook group) reported that they accessed the book from a mobile device (e-reader, Smartphone, laptop or tablet). There was no statistically significant difference in student’s grades when using e-textbooks vs. print textbooks. However, the students who used e-textbooks had higher perceived affective learning and psychomotor learning. The researchers also looked at why students chose the format they did. The findings indicated that students chose print textbooks for portability, familiarity, and useful features such as note-taking and turning down pages. The students who chose e-textbooks reported doing so because of portability and price. There was no statistical difference found in how each group reported using their textbook for studying (reading word for word, skimming, and don’t read). When asked about note taking there was a difference found between the two groups, etextbook users “were almost three times more likely to make notations directly into the text when compared to print text users.” According to the researchers the study had two main limitations. First, “this study used a causal comparative design; thus, the selection threat to validity is an inherent limitation.” Secondly,

the generalizability of the study is limited. There were only a small number of minority participants in the study which limits its applicability to a larger population. This study has several important implications according to the researchers. First, the results showing that students who used the e-textbooks had higher perceived psychomotor and affective learning are significant. This means that those students had a higher perceived acquisition of skill. According to the researchers “If reading an e-textbook can improve the already negative attitudes higher education students have toward reading textbooks and motivate them to read (Hendel & Harrold, 2004), the adoptions of e-textbooks over traditional textbooks may have implications for improving skills needed for success and persistence in college.” Second, students who used the e-textbooks interacted with the text to a greater degree than the other group by using features such as highlighting and note taking. As e-textbooks get more features that make these tasks easier there is reason to think that this will only increase thus increasing the level of affective and psychomotor learning. The researchers conclude that “The findings in this study confirm current research (Johnson et al., 2012) that students are ready to learn digitally due to the reported increase on affective and psychomotor learning. A major hindrance is not all university content is ready to meet the demands of the 21st century.” If I was conducting research in this area there are several directions in which I would go based upon this study. First, I would like to see a similar study redone with a larger more diverse sample group so that the results would be more generalizable. Where this study used grades and self report measures it would be good to conduct another study using additional measures of learning. More research on student perceptions is also needed as they may change a great deal as the e-textbook platform continues to develop and evolve becoming more interactive and easier to use. Critique This study is well written, the language is clear and it is easy to follow. The research question is clearly stated and delimited. The writing is appropriate to the target audience though perhaps a bit dense and complicated for a wide audience or those who do not have a good grasp of statistical concepts. The literature review is robust and extremely helpful. The authors discuss the existing literature on defining e-textbooks which is very helpful as there are a number of different things that come to mind when one thinks of an e-textbook (i.e. Page fidelity vs. reflowable text). Also discussed is the existing research on e-textbooks which has been mostly centered around reading speed and comprehension, this section of the literature review clearly outlines the need for the research done in the study. The final section of the literature review concerns measures of efficacy, looking at grades and perceived learning. The material presented applies directly to my research topic. I am currently the web services librarian at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. In our library (as well as in

many medical and university libraries) our purchase of e-books has far outpaced our purchase of print materials. There are even some schools (MUSC as one example) who have done away with their entire collection of print books. Our students are asking for the purchase of etextbooks rather than print. This study is extremely important because if we are going to be slowly (or not so slowly) replacing the print collection in libraries with e-books we need to be sure that the research show that students are able to learn from them and are able to learn from them as well as they can from the print material otherwise we would be doing our students a disservice. At the end of the study it is clear what knowledge has been gained and which direction the research needs to go in the future.

Conclusion Overall I found this study to be valuable even considering its limitations. This study was useful to me because of the increased use of e-textbooks in the medical school curriculum. The findings are somewhat limited in their application to my particular situation in that they dealt with students in education courses rather than medical students. I think that an excellent area for further research would be to conduct a similar study with medical students. Due to the subject matter I think that many medical e-textbooks lend themselves well to the format and students may benefit from the interactivity that they may offer. For example perhaps a student would learn better from an e-textbook that showed a graphic of how blood flows through the heart as opposed to a static image in a print textbook. This study provided me with a good deal of new information and things to think about, previously I was not convinced that students could learn as well from an e-textbook as from a print textbook. Some of this may be due to my own bias, I personally find it hard to pay attention and annotate when reading an e-textbook I am much more comfortable with print. I think that this study gives an excellent starting point to etextbook research and I would like to see more studies done in a medical school setting using etextbooks that are more interactive.

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