Print and Digital Reading Preferences and Behaviors of University Students in Qatar

Document Type

Conference Proceeding




School of Science




Originally published as:

Johnston, N., Salaz, A., & Alsabbagh, L. (2016, October). Print and Digital Reading Preferences and Behaviors of University Students in Qatar. In European Conference on Information Literacy (pp. 247-255). Springer, Cham. Original paper available here


This paper presents findings of a study that investigated the reading preferences and behaviors of university students in Qatar. The study involved a survey of the print versus digital preferences of students in Qatar followed by an observation of the academic reading behaviors of university students using eye tracking glasses for explanatory insight. Results from the survey indicated that students preferred reading course materials and textbooks in print and felt they learn better this way. Results also indicated that language did not play a large part in students reading format preferences, and a large percentage of students only highlighted and took notes when reading in print. This finding was supported by the eye tracking test that showed that most students only used features such as highlighting and taking notes in print format. The eye tracking reading tests revealed some differences in print versus digital reading behaviors, for example that students tended to navigate differently in digital format by skimming and flipping back and forth more than in print, and that participants spent more time concentrating on the print text. As students tended to mimic their print reading behaviors in digital format except for using features, this would indicate that if students were more familiar with digital features then they would use them when reading digitally. Although students may prefer print, the reality is that course materials are increasingly becoming available only in digital format, therefore libraries and publishers can help students by providing both training in how to use features of digital formats and by developing user friendly digital formats that mimic print reading.




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