Digital Course Materials

Report: More Students Opting To Rent Course Materials

The number of students who are choosing to rent their course materials is on the rise and their use of digital course materials is also increasing, according to a new report from OnCampus Research.

The report, "Student Watch: Attitudes and Behaviors Toward Course Materials, Fall 2014," includes information about how college students access and use their course materials, the factors that influence their purchasing decisions and their thoughts about the options available for purchasing course materials, according to information from OnCampus Research.

The fall 2014 edition of Student Watch found that the number of students renting at least one course material in the fall 2014 term increased 100 percent over the fall 2011 term. The report also found that more students are opting for digital course materials and that students find the most value in those materials that their instructors incorporate into class instruction.

Key findings related to renting course materials include:

  • 40.4 percent of students surveryed said they rented at least one course material in the fall 2014 term;
  • 32 percent of course materials paid for in the fall 2014 term were rentals, compared to 19 percent a year ago; and
  • 49 percent of students surveyed said they rent their course materials from the campus store.

Key findings related to digital course materials include;

  • 31.5 percent of surveyed students said they still prefer printed course materials;
  • 33.7 percent reported that they prefer either digital course materials or print/digital bundles;
  • 24.5 percent said their preference for printed or digital materials depends on the class;
  • 59 percent cited portability as the primary benefit of digital materials;
  • 48 percent cited lower cost as an advantage of digital materials;
  • 38 percent said digital materials are easier to learn and study from;
  • 36 percent said they consider environmental friendliness as an advantage of digital;
  • 75 percent of students who reported feeling comfortable with digital materials agreed that digital materials provide a dynamic learning environment, compared to 43 percent of students who do not feel comfortable with digital materials; and
  • 70 percent of students who said they feel comfortable with digital materials agreed that digital materials improve understanding, compared to 40 percent of students who do not feel comfortable with digital materials.

Key findings related to instructor use of materials include:

  • 93 percent of students said they acquired access codes for course materials when the instructors incorporated the materials into their course;
  • 40 percent of students said they acquired access codes when instructors didn't either recommend the materials or incorporate them into course instruction;
  • 84 percent of students who said they used their course materials extensively found them to be "very or extremely useful"; and
  • 66 percent of students who did not acquire at least one of their course materials said it was because they didn't think the materials were necessary for the course.

OnCampus Research conducts the Student Watch survey twice a year. OnCampus Research is the research arm of indiCo LLC, a division of the National Association of College Stores.

The report, "Student Watch: Attitudes and Behaviors toward Course Materials, Fall 2014," is available for purchase through the OnCampus Research site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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