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Thursday, June 19 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
CON8.08 – Student Textbook Use in the Sciences – How Do They Read and Does it Matter? (Room A339)

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A textbook or course reading pack is a requirement of most first- and second-year undergraduate science courses. Instructors in these courses expect and encourage students to complete the assigned readings, and guides for student success promote textbook reading as a way for students to improve their academic performance. In spite of the general assumption that textbook reading enhances student learning, student-reported reading compliance is low. Perhaps even more surprising, in the few instances where it has been studied, there are conflicting results about whether textbook reading is correlated with improvements in student grades. If there is truly little or no correlation between textbook use and grades, what’s the point in even assigning one?

Given the ubiquitous use of textbooks, their expense and the possibility that textbook reading might not improve student performance in some instances, we surveyed students in several large undergraduate science courses about how they used their course textbook and examined whether there was a correlation between textbook use and performance in the course as measured by final course grades. We also surveyed the course instructors about their use of course textbooks in order to assess whether a textbook was truly required (i.e. if quizzes/tests/exams/assignments contained questions drawn solely from the textbook). Surprisingly, we found that students who reported “never” or “rarely” reading the textbook earned better course grades than those who read “sometimes”. Those who read “often” also did better than those who read “sometimes”.  In addition, the timing of textbook reading (i.e. before class, after class, etc.) had no bearing on final course grades. In conclusion, our study suggests there are different subgroups of learners in courses; some read “often” to do well, while others do not rely at all on the textbook to do well.   This presentation will feature an audience engagement opportunity to brainstorm and design methods to increase textbook reading compliance in courses, including identifying the types of courses that most benefit from textbook reading.

Thursday June 19, 2014 4:00pm - 4:30pm EDT
A339 McArthur Hall

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