Technology is changing the use of textbooks in higher education. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of offering multiple textbook formats in the same…
Technology is changing the use of textbooks in higher education. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of offering multiple textbook formats in the same economics course using textbooks that provided multiple options including new and used printed books, as well as electronic books.
The study is based on a survey conducted in nine sections of introductory economics classes at a public US university. The study took place within the confines of undergraduate courses that offered textbooks with multiple available formats. A survey collected information about the format each student selected, the factors that students considered when choosing the format, and their overall attitudes about their selection at the end of the semester. Demographic information was also recorded.
The paper finds that students selected a variety of textbook options and identified the factors of cost, ease of use, and learning style as most important to their textbook format decision. Students overwhelmingly support the value of offering choice in textbook formats. In examining student selections further, the paper finds that among students that select an electronic textbook, cost is the dominant factor, while students selecting a new printed textbook mention their learning style and ease of use more often. Students that selected a used printed textbook identified cost, ease of use, and the ability to keep the textbook as factors important to them.
This study provides evidence on the impact of having multiple textbook format options within the same course. Overall, the results suggest that the student population has diverse preferences and any uniform policy on textbook format selection may not satisfy the needs of all student groups. Furthermore, students themselves recognize the diversity in learning styles and see value in having options in textbook format selection.