Textbook Research Paper

Researchers call this failure of insight poor “calibration.” The point of such research, as Alexander herself notes, is not to anoint a winner in a contest between digital and print. All of those elements matter a great deal.” On top of that, we all could do with a lot more self-awareness about how we learn from reading.We all swim in a sea of electronic information and there’s no turning back the tide. For example, a big reason that students in the study thought they learned better from digital text is that they moved more quickly in that medium.Due to the length, no scrolling was required, but there still was a difference in how much they absorbed.

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They may not be a magical cure for all the country's education ills, but research shows they are a critical part of learning.

My friend Joanne was packing her youngest child off to college this month and wrestling with a modern dilemma: Is it better to buy textbooks in digital form or old-fashioned print?

She was “shocked,” she says, to find that out of 878 potentially relevant studies published between 19, only 36 directly compared reading in digital and in print and measured learning in a reliable way.

(Many of the other studies zoomed in on aspects of e-reading, such as eye movements or the merits of different kinds of screens.) Aside from pointing up a blatant need for more research, Alexander’s review, co-authored with doctoral student Lauren Singer and appearing in , affirmed at least one practical finding: if you are reading something lengthy – more than 500 words or more than a page of the book or screen – your comprehension will likely take a hit if you’re using a digital device.

Curiously, the students themselves were unaware of this advantage.

In fact, after answering comprehension questions, 69% said they believed they had performed better after reading on a computer.The finding was supported by numerous studies and held true for students in college, high school and grade school.Research suggests that the explanation is at least partly the greater physical and mental demands of reading on a screen: the nuisance of scrolling, and the tiresome glare and flicker of some devices.On the other hand, when reading for pleasure or surface information, they can let ’er rip.Digital text makes it easy for students to copy and paste key passages into a document for further study, but there is little research on how this compares with taking notes by hand.He also imagines digital books that could enable a variety of paths through a body of work.Not all information is linear or even layered, he told me: “There’s a lot of information that’s spherical. The question is to what extent can we mimic human understanding?Alexander and Singer have done their own studies of the digital versus print question.In a 2016 experiment they asked 90 undergraduates to read short informational texts (about 450 words) on a computer and in print.Dutch scholar Joost Kircz points out that these are still early days for digital reading, and new and better formats will continue to emerge.In his view, the linear format of a traditional book is well suited for narratives but not necessarily ideal for academic texts or scientific papers.


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