Electronic vs. Traditional Textbook Use: Dental Students' Perceptions and Study Habits

Document Type



This descriptive study assessed dental students' attitudes about computer use as it relates to study habits and use of e-textbook technology. Academic deans and student leaders at all accredited dental education programs in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada were asked to forward an e-mail to students explaining the purpose of the study and asking them to participate. The e-mail included an embedded URL link to the survey. A total of 703 complete responses from twenty-four dental schools were received and used in the final analysis. Because the number of students contacted could not be determined, the overall response rate cannot be calculated. Over 65 percent of the respondents reported spending >11 hours per week studying although over 75 percent said they spent little time studying from their textbooks. Over 55 percent were from schools that use e-textbooks exclusively, with 25 percent from schools that exclusively use print textbooks. One-fourth indicated they purchased a traditional printed textbook even when an e-textbook was provided; more than one-third printed information from the e-textbooks rather than reading on the computer. A majority (59 percent) preferred traditional textbook resources over e-textbooks, with over 50 percent reporting not using the required e-textbooks at all. E-textbooks were used by students in this study less frequently than materials/notes provided by dental school faculty. The majority preferred to use traditional resources as references and for augmenting lecture material.