Improving Critical Reading with E-Texts: A Controlled Study in a Collegiate Philosophy Course

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Mark Jensen
Lauren Scharff

Abstract

This project investigated the impact of incorporating e-reader texts and annotation tools in an upper level philosophy course. This project adds to the body of literature that assesses gains/losses in conventional measures of performance (e.g., scores on graded assignments) and changes in student attitudes as reported in questionnaires. However, this project was unique in that it focused on training students to use e-reader tools for critical reading practices and it included assessment of student annotations and their relationship with the performance measures. We tested the hypothesis that, with intentional training and a course-design that provided multiple opportunities for practice and feedback, students using e-readers for critical engagement with their reading assignments would demonstrate (a) deeper understanding of the content of the texts, (b) improvement in their use of critical reading practices, and (c) improvement in their attitudes toward the use of e-readers for academic work. While we did not observe significant gains in graded assignments compared with control groups using printed texts, we found no evidence of losses for students using e-readers. At the same time, we found evidence of improvement in students’ critical reading practices, especially when paired with modeling and practice throughout the term. We also observed significant positive changes in student attitudes toward the use of e-readers for academic work, compared with controls. Our findings suggest that achieving the benefits of e-readers for the development of critical reading skills requires a course with design elements that are specifically tailored to this purpose.

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How to Cite
Jensen, M., & Scharff, L. (2019). Improving Critical Reading with E-Texts: A Controlled Study in a Collegiate Philosophy Course. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 19(3). https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v19i2.23978
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Articles
Author Biographies

Mark Jensen, United States Air Force Academy

Associate Professor of Philosophy

United States Air Force Academy

Lauren Scharff, United States Air Force Academy

Director

U.S. Air Force Academy Program for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning