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E- Books or hardcopy Texts: What to Choose?


The advent of the e reader and the subsequent growth in production of e books, means that increasingly more and more of us are putting down paper and taking up digital readers to consume all types of the written word from literature to text to resources and more. For students, the lure of compactness, convenience and cost also means that more and more students are switching to e books to facilitate their learning rather than bulky hardcopy texts. But what is better for learning? Naomi Baron, Professor of Linguistics at American University, recently researched study habits of university students all around the world and the impacts of e- texts vs hard copies on their learning. Her results were perhaps both surprising and, perhaps not so surprising.

She discovered that while students liked the compactness and convenience they were inevitably drawn to the aesthetic of hardcopy texts – their feel, scent, sense of accomplishment in terms of being able to see what they have read. Her research also discovered that using hardcopy texts also minimised the risk of eye strain. But perhaps most surprisingly was that for many students using hardcopy texts actually helped more with learning. Hardcopies made it easier for students to focus, helped improve spatial memory, and made learning “ stick” in their heads more effectively. But the real benefit to learning from hardcopy texts was that of concentration. Most students found they concentrate better when reading from a hardcopy text. This is easy to understand when you think about all the endless distractions that exist when reading online or from a device – the constant notifications, the global portal of information and colourful shininess that is just a click or two away on the internet.

So before you jump to the convenience of the click, take a moment to think about how much benefit you could get and how much value hardcopies could add to your learning. And if you're still not sure  come in and chat to us at the CDU Bookshop. We’re here to help!

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