I'm planning (somewhat technical, but not very technical) undergrad courses in the fall with relatively little lecturing in class, primarily using class time for group work and discussion (as explained in and as a follow-up to: How to motivate students to do readings). I'm trying to choose reading material that students are more likely to read.

Is there any evidence (preferably actual research, but ancedotal if necessary) that certain "formats" of required reading are more likely to be read by students? Specifically I have in mind the following tete-a-tete's:

  • physical books versus e-books versus online notes
  • free versus low-priced versus expensive books
  • one long book versus several short books
  • 1
    Not an answer to the question, but I'd encourage you to consider how you assign the readings to students and what if any active things you'll require them to do with the readings (e.g. you could assign the reading along with a set of questions to be read and answered before class.) There's plenty of research about how to get students to do assigned reading before class. Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 18:25
  • @BrianBorchers Thanks, I was thinking about doing something like that. Can you recommend any specific articles elaborating on your comment?
    – Kimball
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 23:00
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    Some good advice can be found at: canadacollege.edu/inside/CIETL/getting_students_to_read.pdf Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 1:37

1 Answer 1


One way to get students to read is to assign some sort of assessment in relation to the reading. It could be a quiz, project, paper, or whatever you believe is necessary. They must be required to do something with the knowledge they obtain from the reading in order to motivate them to read it. In many ways the assessment awakens a "need" in the student to read.

To ask today's student to read for the sake of knowledge often does not work. There are too many things competing for their time to read something they do not have have too.

  • This is not really an answer to this question (more of an answer to my previous question), or much different from Brian's comment above.
    – Kimball
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 23:47
  • Well I guess you already know what to do Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 1:34

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