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LEARNING AND TEACHING CENTRE

Kindle DX Study

Posted by Jayde Cahir on May 4th, 2011

A study of student use of the Kindle DX at the University of Washington gave the device decidedly mixed reviews. According to Inside Higher Ed article released today, ‘the study involved first-year graduate students in computer science and engineering — students who are presumably comfortable with digital information. But seven months into the study, 60 percent of the students had stopped regularly using their Kindles for academic reading. Although the Kindle has note-taking capability, the study found many students preferred to use paper to take notes on what they read on their Kindles’.

Some conclusions, as listed in the University of Washington press 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 Kindle DX was the difficulty of switching between reading techniques, such as skimming an article’s illustrations or references just before reading the complete text. Students 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.

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