Internet a tool for students’ study habits

beth.kramer and beth.kramer

A recent survey shows that students use the Internet for more than just Youtube and Facebook. The survey, released over the summer, found that college students use the Internet as a study tool, not a study distraction.

Houghton Mifflin, a textbook publishing company, commissioned the survey, which aimed to discover if college students were using the Internet when they studied.

Houghton Mifflin hired independent researcher Marta Loeb to conduct the survey to prevent any bias. Data from NMU aligns with their findings.

“We wanted to understand how today’s ‘wired’ student generation uses online learning tools,” said Katie Rose, vice president of marketing for Houghton Mifflin..

A total of 896 students were surveyed nationwide. Fifty-nine percent said they use online study tools to compliment their studying habits. Online quizzes were the most popular study aid, according to the survey, with 78 percent of students using them.

The survey also found that students use online course outlines to help them with classes.

Loeb found that while students use the Internet as a study aid, the Web is not replacing textbooks as a study source.

Traditionalism holds firm at the Olson Library as well. Over 42,000 books were checked out of NMU’s library last year. Yet only 3,245 accesses to the Net library e-book collection were made, said Kevin McDonough, electronic services librarian.

Though the Internet is far from replacing hard copies of books, it still remains woven into NMU’s educational process.

There are currently 787 classes at NMU using WebCT, said Kathy Saville, instructional technologist.

Economics Professor Tawni Ferrarini is one of 285 NMU professors who take advantage of the online learning resource.

Ferrarini said that she finds online quizzes a useful teaching tool, as they ensure that students are keeping up with the reading prior to class. She said that the WebCT learning tools give her students a richer learning experience and make her job easier.

“I run most of my activity through the Internet because most of the students that we’re seeing in class right now … are Web-friendly and comfortable with the electronic age, so to speak. So, it’s an integral part of their education and their personal lives,” Ferrarini said.

Ferrarini also conducted a survey of her own with Sandra Poindexter, a computer information systems professor. Their findings revealed which online instructional tools students and faculty used the most.

E-mail was the number one online tool; syllabi were second, followed by electronic reading guides and lecture notes.

Chris Tenpas, a senior history education major, uses Web-based learning in almost every class. His professors prefer to use the Internet for research or to explore specific Web sites.

“I use [the Internet] a lot, more for class than personal use,” Tenpas said.

Loeb said she was surprised at the number of students disciplined in their study habits.

“The Internet is a way of life for college students. There are Internet tools available to help students and there’s nothing yet to absolutely replace a textbook online,” Loeb said.