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EDET 780 May 30, 2013
Daniel Brown Sarah Fletcher Lisa Kolakowski
Learning with E-Textbooks - Brown, Fletcher, Kolakowski Introduction & Objective The use of e-textbooks in undergraduate education has been on the rise in recent years. Libraries are purchasing more e-books than print materials and, in some cases, are transitioning to a totally online environment. With an increasingly difficult budget environment e-textbooks also offer the option of reducing costs both for students as well as the institution. “According to the National Association of College Stores, national e textbook revenue in 2010 was 3% of total textbook revenue (Foderaro, 2010), but that share was expected to grow to 10 or 15 percent by 2012” (Miller, 2012). While the use of e-textbooks has been steadily increasing, the research on students’ perceptions of e textbooks and how they use them has lagged behind. The purpose of this research study is to examine student attitudes towards the use of e-textbooks. Review of the Literature Types of E-Textbooks While e-textbook technology is advancing at a rapid rate the literature behind it is not robust. The literature is not keeping pace with the advancement and adoption of the technology. Most of the current research on e-textbooks deals with student attitudes towards them in the form of surveys. In reviewing the literature the first thing that needs to be discussed is the definition of an e-texbook and what format it takes. E-textbooks have been defined in many ways in the relevant literature. Two main types of etextbooks are currently used in education. The first is the page fidelity e-textbook. These are e-textbooks that mimic the print text, they are usually just scanned copies of the print text. The second type of e-textbook is reflowable digital e-textbooks, these allow for formatting changes and interactive features to be added (Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2013). These differences are one of the main challenges in working with the literature regarding e-textbooks. While both formats are technically e-textbooks, the user experience is going to be very different if you are talking about a direct copy of a print book versus content that is dynamic and interactive. In addition much of the literature on student attitudes towards e-textbooks involves page fidelity e-textbooks that are read on a computer. One example of this is a study in the journal Teaching of Psychology
Learning with E-Textbooks - Brown, Fletcher, Kolakowski Evaluating the Electronic Textbook: Is It Time to Dispense with the Paper Text? (Shepperd, 2008). This study was performed using a CD version of the text that students viewed on a laptop. This experience with e-textbooks would be very different than a study conducted with students using reflowable digital e-textbooks that they were able to access on a tablet or e-reader. Student Preference: E-Textbook vs. Print Throughout the literature studies have found that even though students are using more e-textbooks, they still prefer to use print. (Sandberg, 2011; Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2013; Shepperd, 2008; Woody, 2010) There are a number of reasons that this may be the case. The first as discussed previously is possible differences in format and portability. There is a small amount of research postulating that there may be some problems with online reading that have not been worked out yet in terms of format and devices used. These include possible cognitive overload with hypertext, graphics, eyestrain and other added features; the difficulty of navigating hypertext in some e-textbooks, and eyestrain from reading online documents. (Sandberg, 2011) Studies looking at both page fidelity and reflowable digital e-texbooks have reported similar results that even if students report favorably on their experience using e-textbooks they still prefer the print textbooks when given the option. It is possible that some of these preferences are due to the fact that the e-textbook as a medium is not quite there yet, the technology and format design is not as polished and easy to use as it may be in the future. For example in a study on undergraduates’ information retrieval with print vs. e -textbooks, researchers found that students were at the time frustrated with the features of the etextbooks such as searching because they did not work like Google or other search functions they were used to using. Computer literacy does not necessarily translate to automatically knowing how to navigate e-textbooks. Students expect e-textbooks to function like known web technologies. This is an area where the technology needs to adapt to meet the needs of the users. (Berg, 2010)
Learning with E-Textbooks - Brown, Fletcher, Kolakowski Learning Differences E-Textbook vs. Print The literature is fairly sparse when it comes to examining learning outcomes and the effectiveness of e-textbooks vs. print textbooks. Two studies show that there are no differences in grades when students use e-textbooks as opposed to traditional print textbooks (Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2013; Shepperd, 2008). Rockinson-Szapkiw conducted one of the few studies that are available using reflowable digital e–textbooks and found no statistically significant differences in grades between the two groups. The study did find, however, that “students who used e-textbooks for their education courses had significantly higher perceived psychomotor and affective learning than students who chose traditional print textbooks” (Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2013). Another issue to consider when looking at e-textbooks and learning is the platform on which the students are reading. More and more e-textbooks are accessible via apps on tablets. Many schools are starting to integrate tablet use into their curriculum. This opens up another potential set of problems for the use of e-textbooks. While there may not be a difference in grades in the studies conducted so far when accessing e-textbooks on a tablet or other similar device there is the issue of electronic multitasking. Students may be able to learn just as well from an e-textbook vs. a print book, but that may change when they are accessing the e-textbook via a platform that allows them to do several other things at the same time, and students may not realize that this is a problem. According to Sandberg, there is “strong evidence that electronic multitasking cannot be done well, but students continue to do it.” (Sandberg, 2011)
Research Design Research Questions Overall, the literature on e-textbooks in higher education is fairly sparse. More research is needed on student preferences, perceived learning, format and device differences and efficacy of learning with e-textbooks. Our primary research questions are:
1. Do students prefer to use a traditional book or electronic book?
Learning with E-Textbooks - Brown, Fletcher, Kolakowski
2. Does gender determine usage of a traditional book versus an e-textbook? 3. Does previous usage of an e-textbook determine future usage? 4. Do students who use an e-textbook have a higher perceived learning than
students who use a traditional book?
5. Do students who use an e-textbook have higher grades than students who use
a traditional book?
6. Does the device (computer, kindle, iPad, etc) determine the use of an e-
textbook? These research questions still needing answers surround the student benefit for using e-textbooks, the demographic of students who would use e-textbooks, and the type of device used for e-textbooks. Since e-textbooks are still on the rise and the technology behind them are continuously improving, these research questions need to be answered to determine what students prefer and what enhances the learning experience the most. Design The target group for this research would be the University of South Carolina students enrolled in the history classes for the 2013-2014 academic year. The group of students could range from freshmen to seniors with a variety of majors. The students will be presurveyed and post-surveyed. A random sample will be designated to use an e-textbook and the instructors will also use the e-textbook in the classroom.
Research Method Participants The participants in this research study are sent at survey at the beginning of the semester with questions around textbook and e-textbook usage. All students in the class will have the ability to purchase an e-textbook or traditional textbook before the class begins. Based on the initial survey, some respondents who did not already select the e-textbook are randomly selected and issued an e-textbook to use for the semester. The rest of the students can continue to use a traditional textbook.
Learning with E-Textbooks - Brown, Fletcher, Kolakowski Materials and Instruments The survey for the beginning of the semester will be sent to students prior to the start of the class. It will be administered through the classroom assessment software the University of South Carolina currently uses. Students will be able the complete the survey up until the day before class begins. During the first class, the instructor will have the list of students who will use an e-textbook at a discounted price. The instructor will also use information contained in the reflowable digital e-textbook throughout the semester. Procedures The initial survey will be conducted prior to the semester starting. Based on the information in the survey, a random sampling of students will use the e-textbook for the semester. The instructor will use components of the e-textbook in classroom instruction. A concluding survey will be sent to all students in the course, not just those with an etextbook. Additional questions will be added around the added value the e-textbook provided, if any and the perceived value to the students. Measures The research study will be measured by the survey results from the students, as well as feedback from the instructor. Internal consistency and validity will be examined based on the related questions between the pre-test and post-test regarding subject matter, knowledge and familiarity (see Appendix A).
Data Analysis Most of the survey consists of quantitative questions with dependent open ended questions. The open-ended questions are qualitative in nature and are more difficult to analyze but they tend to yield information that is not readily available through quantitative methods. After the data is collected, a code book will be created for the open ended questions. Once the scales have been determined, we will decide how non responses and outliers will be handled, then we will analyze the data to see if any demographic details can be used to draw any conclusions on the test group. Since
Learning with E-Textbooks - Brown, Fletcher, Kolakowski portions of the survey is designed to get the participants experiences and attitudes on their willingness to utilize e-textbooks in a classroom setting, we will most likely choose the Pearson correlation method to analyze the data. The main qualitative question will be captured in the post test only by participants who use electronic textbooks. The question will explain the participant’s overall satisfaction or dissatisfaction with using an electronic text. This question was included because the researchers believe that it will give more insight into the participants perception, as to the role that e-textbook could play in the classroom.
Conclusion The use of e-textbooks continue to be on the rise as the technology improves. Some research already exists on the use of e-textbooks over a traditional textbook, but there is an opportunity for more research studies. For example, we suggest more studies on the impact of e-textbooks on the learner, demographics of students who use etextbooks, and the perceived value from the student. Overall, we feel that through more research and the continuous improvements on e-textbook technology, the benefits to the learner when using an e-textbook will continue to improve.
Appendix A Pre-test Questions 1. How willing are you to use e-text? ○ Very willing ○ Neutral ○ Not willing 2. Do you prefer e-textbooks or print? ○ E-textbook ○ Print text ○ No preference 3. Have you ever used an e-textbook?
Learning with E-Textbooks - Brown, Fletcher, Kolakowski ○ Yes, please explain to what extent _______________________________ ○ No 4. Did you use an e-textbook or print text for this course? ○ E-textbook ○ Print (please skip to question 7) 5. What device do you plan to use your e-text on? (Please check all that apply) ○ Computer (Desktop and/or laptop) ○ Kindle/Nook ○ iPad ○ Other Tablet ○ Other (Please specify___________________________________________) 6. What factor(s) made you want to use an e-textbook for this course? (Please check all that apply) ○ Reduced cost ○ More compact or easier to carry around ○ Technology preference ○ Other (Please specify _______________________________________) 7. What is your current major?_________________________ 8. How interested are you in the course material? ○ Very interested ○ Neutral ○ Not interested 9. What is your age? ______ 10. What is your anticipated grade in this course? ______________________ 11. Have you previously attempted to take this course? ○ Yes, please explain the reason for retaking this course _____________ ○ No
Learning with E-Textbooks - Brown, Fletcher, Kolakowski 12. What year are you in school? _________________
Post-test Questions 1. After completing this course, how willing are you to use e-text? ○ Very willing ○ Neutral ○ Not willing 2. Do you prefer e-textbooks or print? ○ E-textbook ○ Print Text ○ No preference 3. Have you ever used an e-textbook? ○ Yes, please explain to what extent _______________________________ ○ No 4. Did you use an e-textbook or print text for this course? ○ E-textbook ○ Print Text (please skip to question 9) 5. What device did you use your e-textbook on? (Please check all that apply) ○ Computer (Desktop and/or laptop) ○ Kindle ○ Nook ○ iPad ○ Other Tablet ○ Other (Please specify___________________________________________) 6. What factor(s) made you want to use an e-textbook for this course? (Please check all that apply) ○ Reduced cost
Learning with E-Textbooks - Brown, Fletcher, Kolakowski ○ More compact or easier to carry around ○ Technology preference ○ Other (Please specify ________________________________________) 7. Are you glad that you used an e-text in this course? ○ Yes ○ No ○ No preference 8. Please briefly explain your answer to question #7. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ 9. What is your current major?_________________________ 10. How interested were you in the course material? ○ Very interested ○ Neutral ○ Not interested 11. What is your age? ______ 12. What is your anticipated grade in this course? ______ 13. Have you previously attempted to take this course? ○ Yes, please explain the reason for retaking this course _____________ ○ No 14. What year are you in school? _________________
Learning with E-Textbooks - Brown, Fletcher, Kolakowski References Berg, S., Hoffmann, K., & Dawson, D. (2010). Not on the Same Page: Undergraduates' Information Retrieval in Electronic and Print Books. Journal Of Academic Librarianship, 36(6), 518-525.
Embong, A.M., Noor, A.M., Hashim, H.M., Ali, R.M., Shaari. Z.H. (2012). E-Books as Textbooks in the Classroom, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 47, 18021809.
Gurung, R., & Landrum, R. (2012). Comparing Student Perceptions of Textbooks: Does Liking Influence Learning?. International Journal Of Teaching And Learning In Higher Education, 24(2), 144-150.
Miller, J. R., Nutting, A. W., Baker-Eveleth, L., & Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, (. (2012). The Determinants of Electronic Textbook Use among College Students. Cornell Higher Education Research Institute
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, 63259-266.
Sandberg, K. (2011). College Student Academic Online Reading: A Review of the Current Literature. Journal Of College Reading And Learning, 42(1), 89-98.
Shepperd, J. A., Grace, J. L., & Koch, E. J. (2008). Evaluating the Electronic Textbook: Is It Time to Dispense with the Paper Text?. Teaching Of Psychology, 35(1), 2-5.
Stone, R., & Baker-Eveleth, L. (2013). Students’ expectation, confirmation, and continuance intention to use electronic textbooks. Computers In Human Behavior, 29(3), 984-990.
Woody, W., Daniel, D. B., & Baker, C. A. (2010). E-Books or Textbooks: Students Prefer Textbooks. Computers & Education, 55(3), 945-948.
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