Overwhelming proof? Research shows 3 ways going digital improves student performance

Digital options could provide measurable improvements for students, says research AND students.

Increased use of digital materials

Recent studies from independent research firm Student Monitor have shown that an increasing number of students are using digital learning products, which typically cost half of the price of a printed textbook. Student Monitor reports that in Spring 2016, the share of students purchasing digital course materials for unlimited use increased 63 percent while the number of students renting a digital textbook increased 100 percent , compared to Spring 2015.

[Editor’s note: Some schools have made the jump to free and open digital resources, arguing that even digital access codes and digital materials that are only available through textbook purchases can present costly dilemmas for cash-strapped students. Read more about that here.]

In addition to lower prices and improved grades, students also choose digital because it is more convenient than print books, more environmentally friendly and can often be purchased at the same time as tuition and fees.

Students Weigh In

Students who use digital materials tend to have more favorable opinions of them. When WileyPLUS was introduced to an introductory psychology course at the University of Cincinnati, students who used it found it beneficial – three out of four would opt to use the digital learning tool again in a future course.

In McGraw-Hill Education’s 2016 Digital Study Trends Survey, which includes responses from more than 3,300 U.S. college students in associate’s, bachelor’s, and graduate programs, 81 percent of college students said they find digital learning technologies helpful when it comes to improving their grades and improving efficiency and effectiveness.

What’s more, 69 percent said they believe digital learning technologies help them focus, 82 percent said these tools help them spend more time studying through increased accessibility, and 63 percent said they feel better prepared for class.

Students said the top benefits they receive from digital learning technologies include doing homework (81 percent), preparing for exams (79 percent), collaborating with other students (61 percent), and asking questions in class (52 percent).

When it came to specific digital tools, 66 percent of student surveyed said adaptive learning tools and online quizzes are very or extremely helpful in learning retention; and 89 percent said they agree or strongly agree that digital learning technologies should adapt to a student’s unique way of learning, and that they also should be individualized (80 percent).

However, 79 percent of students said they believe there are still ways instructors could use digital learning technologies to make their education better.

Laura Ascione

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