As millions of college freshman head to campus, a new study reveals that students are stocking their book bag, or rather their computer bag, with online study tools to stay ahead in class. The survey of 896 currently enrolled college students underwritten by Houghton Mifflin Company found that more than half (59 percent) of college students surveyed said they use online study tools to keep up with course work and prepare for exams.
Online quizzing is the most popular online study aid, with 78 percent of students saying they use this tool. Almost as popular are online course outlines that accompany textbooks, with two-thirds of students reporting that they download these study-aids. Rounding out students’ online ‘book bag’ are video tutorials (29 percent), online tutoring (24 percent) and online study groups (16 percent).
“Online study tools are a new resource that today’s wired students can take advantage of that past generations didn’t have access to,” said Katie Rose, who heads research and marketing for Houghton Mifflin College Division. “We’re finding that students are increasingly using online study tools in tandem with their textbooks.”
Old School, New School: eBooks are another digital study tool gaining in popularity, with more than one-third of students saying they would buy an eBook version of a textbook. Whether in paper or digital form, students place a high value on their textbooks. More than two-thirds said they believe having the assigned texts helps them get better grades, and for 75 percent, price is not a primary purchase barrier.
Professor Jeffery Vail, assistant professor of humanities at Boston University, offers this advice to incoming college freshman: “First-semester students can do some relatively simple things to get ahead in the study game, such as taking ‘freestyle’ notes during class and then editing them into outline form later. Honing in on key points and weeding out less important information early on makes studying easier down the road.”
“In my 15 years of teaching, I’ve found that good study habits are inevitably linked to better academic performance. This is as true for freshman as it is for returning students,” he said.
Houghton Mifflin, a leading educational publisher, reports that student usage of textbooks sold with companion online learning tools has increased 100 percent from 2004-2006. Using companion online tools is easy. Students receive a free online access code with their new textbook.
From “Animal House” to Honor Roll: Parents of college students can breathe a sigh of relief. The study reveals that today’s students have surprisingly good study habits. Still, some succumb to age-old distractions.
Do students really welcome every distraction? In fact, the majority (65 percent) of students said they use discipline, focus and a lock on their door for privacy during exam week. Not surprisingly, distractions of choice for students are (1) music/other entertainment (44 percent), (2) the computer (43 percent) and (3) caffeine, sugar/food (36 percent).
Are students really last-minute crammers? There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that 55 percent of students report studying throughout the semester … but this means that 44 percent are not. Still, only 18 percent called themselves ‘crammers,’ and only 6 percent said they don’t study at all.
Are students really late night learners? The majority (49 percent) of students actually said mid-day is their favorite study time, followed by 35 percent who prefer to study in the late night/dawn hours. “To no one’s surprise, only 12 percent of college students said they prefer to study in the early morning, which just goes to show that students really are not morning people,” said Rose.
Survey Methodology: The results of this survey, underwritten by the Houghton Mifflin College Division through third-party Packaged Facts syndicated research author and youth/family market research expert Marta Loeb, are based on a representative national telephone and Internet survey of 896 students currently enrolled in college. The survey was conducted July 12-16, 2007. The margin of error is + or – 5 percent.
About Houghton Mifflin: Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Company is one of the leading educational publishers in the United States, with more than $1.4 billion in sales. The Company publishes a comprehensive set of educational solutions, ranging from research-based textbook programs to instructional technology to standards-based assessments for elementary and secondary schools and colleges. The Company also publishes an extensive line of reference works and award-winning fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers. In 2006, Houghton Mifflin merged with Riverdeep, bringing together one of the most respected print publishers with the leader in interactive courseware. With origins dating back to 1832, Houghton Mifflin combines its tradition of excellence with a commitment to innovation. To learn more about Houghton Mifflin, visit www.hmco.com.
About Houghton Mifflin College Division: The Houghton Mifflin College Division publishes textbooks, study guides, online tools and other study-support materials primarily for introductory-level college courses, for students at four-year, community and career colleges and universities.