Ninth Brown Bag of the Semester – November 8, 2013

David Waterman, Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University

Printed vs. Electronic Readings:  A Misalignment of University and Student Incentives?

ABSTRACT: I will report on joint work done with Sung Wook Ji and Sherri Michaels (IUB Libraries). We surveyed 101 students in two undergraduate courses (one in Telecom) about their usage of electronically accessed required readings.  About two-thirds of respondents printed off at least some required readings in these courses. Our results show that for most students, however, electronic readings are cost efficient.  That is, printing students incurred substantially lower time and money costs in printing and binding themselves, than the projected price of a printed and bound course pack with all of the readings.

A majority of respondents also reported an overall preference for electronically supplied readings, but only because of cost. Large majorities said they usually read more, and learned more, when readings are supplied in print. Furthermore, students who said they preferred readings to be supplied in printed form were no more likely to print off the electronic readings themselves than were those who said they preferred readings to be supplied electronically.  These findings suggest a misalignment of university and student incentives in the supply and usage of electronic readings.

Paul Wright’s introduction to David Waterman:

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