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July 23, 2013

Students Prefer Print for Serious Academic Reading

Sara Grossman:

E-reader use is on the rise, and the textbook market is shifting toward customizable digital products. Are students ditching print in favor of electronic alternatives for their academic reading? A forthcoming small study from the City University of New York asked that question and found that, like previous generations, at least some Millennials still prefer reading long texts and academic selections in print.

The study, "Student Reading Practices in Print and Electronic Media," to be published in September 2014 in the journal College & Research Libraries, tracked the reading habits of 17 CUNY students through diary entries, interviews, and discussion groups over the course of two weeks. The students were mostly juniors, seniors, and graduate students, and most were younger than 25.

The research found that they almost always used e-book readers, mobile devices, and tablet computers for nonacademic reading but relied on paper printouts for academic reading.

The study's author, Nancy M. Foasberg, a humanities librarian at CUNY's Queens College, acknowledged the difficulties in generalizing from such a small sample. But the takeaway is that "the students in the study really wanted to use print to read for serious academic purposes," Ms. Foasberg said. They reported that computers and e-books were "fine for less serious work," but when they "really wanted to get work done, they gravitated to print."

Posted by Jim Zellmer at July 23, 2013 3:53 AM
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