Survey of student preference hard copy versus online textbook in algebra and trigonometry

A survey was administered to 21 students on the first day of class in a six-week summer session algebra and trigonometry course here on Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. The survey sought to determine whether the students had some of the technology and access necessary to using an online open access textbook.

To orient the students to the nature of the questions being asked in the survey, the students were shown the hard copy eighth edition of the Larson Algebra & Trigonometry text.

The students were also show the OpenStax Algebra and Trigonometry text.

The survey asked the following three questions:

MS 101 Algebra and Trigonometry may explore a pilot test of an online textbook. In order to determine the feasibility (possibility) of using an online textbook, please answer the following questions:

1. I have the following technologies (check all that apply):
▢ Smartphone
▢ Tablet
▢ Laptop computer
▢ Desktop computer at home
▢ Internet at home

2. Which would you prefer using:
▢  Hard copy, printed textbook
▢  Online textbook

3. If you do not have Internet access at home and the class uses an online textbook, would you be able to complete homework in the library (or at other Internet connected locations) after class?
▢  Yes

Sixty-two percent of the students have smartphones, 57% have laptop computers. No student left all of the hardware check boxes blank. Every student had one or another form of technology that could access online materials. For out here, the "Internet at home" number was somewhat surprising - 57% of the students have home access to Internet.

Given the previous numbers, it was not surprising that 90% of the students prefer the online textbook. The students know that hard copy textbooks cost significant amounts of money, there is no way to remove cost as a factor in their decision. 

Twenty of the twenty-one students noted that they would be able to complete homework in the library (or other Internet connected locations) after class, including both of the respondents who preferred the hard copy textbook. One student did not answer the question. Not one student answered this question in the negative.

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