May 11, 2011
Student Kindle DX Use for Academic Reading Gets Mixed Reviews
The Seattle Times reports on a study of a University of Washington pilot program of Kindle DX use for eTextbooks and other course texts involving first-year computer science and engineering graduate students. Seven months into the program, 60 percent of the students had stopped regularly using their Kindles for academic reading. Findings include
- The Kindle DX was more likely to replace students' paper-based reading than their computer-based reading.
- Of the students who continued to use the device, some read near a computer so they could look up references or do other tasks that were easier to do on a computer. Others tucked a sheet of paper into the case so they could write notes.
- With paper, three quarters of students marked up texts as they read. This included highlighting key passages, underlining, drawing pictures and writing notes in margins.
- A drawback of the Kindle DX was the difficulty of switching between reading techniques, such as skimming an article's illustrations or references just before reading the complete text. Students frequently made such switches as they read course material.
- The digital text also disrupted a technique called cognitive mapping, in which readers used physical cues, such as the location on the page and the position in the book to find a section of text or even to help retain and recall the information they had read.