VitalSource commissioned Shift Learning to conduct research with current students in the United Kingdom to explore the perceived impact of eTextbooks on students’ learning outcomes and confidence. The research sought to understand usage of eTextbooks, in addition to the benefits and challenges for different groups of students.
The results show that eTextbooks are effective learning tools that provide an overwhelmingly positive experience for students. The data was collected between October and December of 2017 and calculated from 979 respondents. Some highlights from the study include:
- 89% of students say eTextbooks integrated into their course materials and teaching had a positive impact on their learning
- 66% of students indicate that eTextbooks made them feel more confident in what they learned
- 83% of students agree that eTextbooks allow for effective independent study
- 57% of users feel eTextbooks have contributed to raising their grade
- 58% of students may not have completed their required reading without institutional provision of eTextbooks
- 50% of students said eTexbooks made them more likely to complete their course
When students were asked the best thing about eTextbooks, they cited features like ease of access, portability, ease of use, affordability, and convenience. One student said, “free [e]textbooks are golden, and they're easier to access than going to the library, which can be hard when anxiety is high.”
Universities are under increasing pressure to meet the teaching quality, learning environments and student outcome requirements of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF). These results reveal that students associate eTextbooks with improved learning outcomes, and support key aspects of TEF such as independent study (83%) and course completion (50%). This indicates that institutions should give further consideration to providing eTextbooks, deeply integrated into their Virtual Learning Environment and included in the student course fees as a way forward to meeting TEF requirements.
What these results show us at VitalSource is that the shift to digital learning materials all around the world is not only happening, but it’s a positive and effective learning experience for students.