Kindle so-so for students, UW study concludes

May 09, 2011 By Brier Dudley

Researchers at the University of Washington are about to present a report on a pilot project that had computer science students use a Kindle DX for their course reading.

College textbooks are a holy grail for the electronic book industry, but apparently they still have a ways to go, based on the UW study, conducted during the 2009-2010 school year.

"There is no that supports what we found these students doing," first author Alex Thayer, a UW doctoral student in design and engineering, said in a release. "It remains to be seen how to design one. It's a great space to get in to, there's a lot of opportunity."

Seven months into the study, more than 60 percent of the students had stopped using their Kindle regularly for academic reading - and these were computer science students, who are presumably more sympathetic to an electronic book.

Although the device has note-taking capabilities, some students still tucked paper into the Kindle case to write notes and others would read near a computer that they could use for reference and other tasks that weren't easy on the device.

The study used the DX, which is the largest Kindle, a $379 model with a 9.7-inch diagonal screen. It involved 39 first-year graduate students in and engineering, with ages ranging from 21 to 53.

Some conclusions, as listed in the release:

- Students did most of the reading in fixed locations: 47 percent of reading was at home, 25 percent at school, 17 percent on a bus and 11 percent in a coffee shop or office.

- 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 DX was the difficulty of switching between reading techniques, such as skimming an article's illustrations or references just before reading the complete text. 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.

The study will be presented at next week's Association for Computing Machinery conference on human factors in computing systems, taking place in Vancouver, B.C.

Explore further: BlackBerry launches Classic in last-ditch effort

4.7 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Kindle lightens textbook load, but flaws remain

Oct 13, 2009

(AP) -- It's an experiment that has made back-to-school a little easier on the back: Amazon.com gave more than 200 college students its Kindle e-reading device this fall, loaded with digital versions of their ...

Schools shun Kindle, saying blind can't use it

Nov 11, 2009

(AP) -- Amazon's Kindle can read books aloud, but if you're blind it can be difficult to turn that function on without help. Now two universities say they will shun the device until Amazon changes the setup.

Amazon to release free Kindle software for PC

Oct 22, 2009

(AP) -- Amazon.com Inc. is trying to get more people to buy the electronic books that are compatible with its Kindle gadget by offering free software for people to read them on a computer.

Recommended for you

Ear-check via phone can ease path to diagnosis

27 minutes ago

Ear infections are common in babies and young children. That it is a frequent reason for young children's visit to doctors comes as no consolation for the parents of babies tugging at their ears and crying ...

Gift Guide: Home products come with connectivity

12 hours ago

Do you really need an app to tell you to brush and floss? It seems every household appliance is getting some smarts these days, meaning some connection to a phone app and the broader Internet. But then what?

BlackBerry launches Classic in last-ditch effort

Dec 17, 2014

(AP)—BlackBerry is returning to its roots with a new phone that features a traditional keyboard at a time when rival Apple and Android phones—and most smartphone customers—have embraced touch screens.

Tag Heuer changes tune, now looking at smartwatches

Dec 16, 2014

Barely a few months after dismissing Apple's smartwatch, the new chief executive of luxury Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer conceded Tuesday that such a hi-tech gadget might after all have a place in his firm's ...

Runtastic turns to VR for optimal workouts

Dec 16, 2014

Some people avoid technology altogether when it comes time to switch off stress and turn on a feeling of health and well-being. They put on a pair of shoes and start walking. They get on a bike and start ...

Gift Guide: Five fitness trackers offer wide range

Dec 16, 2014

There are several fitness trackers to choose from, varying in what they measure and how easy they are to use. Here are five, ranked from budget to sophisticated, to give you a sense of the range available. ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gah
not rated yet May 09, 2011
I think the research is spot-on.
I didn't know the name of the reading technique called "cognitive mapping" but have always been aware that the page layout could effect reading comprehension: not important for a potboiler novel but VERY important for learning situations. I really want TWO e-readers: a Kindle type for reading those novels, and a 14-inch screen for my tech stuff. The 14-inch is about what it would take to get an equivalent of a 8.5 x 11 letter sized display.
The Kno teaching tablet was designed to meet ALL of these objections, altho it has stopped shipping and is trying to recast itself as a software company. Its site is no longer completely available, but the demos it had indicated great promise - optional dual screens, notetaking, interactivity, the works.
I'd love such a device that was Windows-based for interfacing with with my business stuff... Fujitsu has long made a convertable PC with a 13-inch screen that might be very close - but it's pricey.
rgharakh
5 / 5 (1) May 09, 2011
The cognitive mapping part definitely applies to me. I can't read digital textbooks because I need to see where the page is and the content is relative to everything else. I get lost reading in digital pages. It makes me feel like there's less continuity.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.