Journal of Computing in Higher Education

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 477–495 | Cite as

Facilitating adoption of an interactive e-textbook among university students in a large, introductory biology course

  • Sam Van HorneEmail author
  • Marisa Henze
  • Kathy L. Schuh
  • Carolyn Colvin
  • Jae-Eun Russell


E-textbooks are more prevalent in college courses, but much recent research still shows that students prefer paper textbooks and have difficulty regulating their learning with digital course materials. Still, college instructors—especially in lower-division STEM courses—often adopt digital course materials with e-textbooks that include a variety of metacognitive supports that students may not use. The purpose of this study was to test whether an intervention that drew upon the principles of the Technology Acceptance Model could facilitate better adoption of an interactive e-textbook in a large, introductory biology course. Participants included 239 undergraduate students from laboratory sections that were randomly assigned to a treatment or control group. The treatment group viewed a video detailing the most beneficial ways to interact with an e-textbook. A pre- and post-test were administered to the participants in both groups. The treatment group had higher overall satisfaction, on average, with the e-textbook than the control group but did not report using the interactive tools more often. The implications for instruction with digital course materials are discussed.


E-textbook Learning with educational technology STEM Digital course materials 



The authors acknowledge Professor Byrant McAllister, who assisted with the creation of the video and helped the researchers by providing access to a population of research participants. Dr. Brenda Leicht also helped us coordinate the recruitment of research subjects. John Gikonyo, a Student Instructional Technology Assistant, helped with the recording of the video. Amanda J. O. Van Horne provided assistance with video editing, and Kirk Batterson assisted with the production of the figure. Lastly, the authors acknowledge the support of the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates, who supported Marisa Henze’s participation in this project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors of this research study do not have any conflicts of interest related to this project. All research procedures in this study were approved by the Institutional Review Board, and all participants consented to participate in the research study according to the procedures approved by the IRB.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (MP4 408284 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Office of Teaching, Learning and TechnologyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Office of AssessmentUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychological and Quantitative FoundationsUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  4. 4.Department of Teaching and LearningUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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