Digital Game-Based Textbook vs. Traditional Print-Based Textbook:  The Effect of Textbook Format on College Students' Engagement with Textbook Content outside of the Classroom



The relatively little amount of time that some college students spend reading their textbooks outside of the classroom presents a significant threat to their academic success. Using Prenksy’s (2001) digital game-based learning (DGBL) principles and Astin’s student involvement theory as frameworks, the purpose of this true experiment was to determine whether a significant difference in engagement, as indicated by mental effort and time on task, existed between college students who used a digital game-based textbook and students who used a traditional print-based textbook. A customizable digital game-based textbook designed using DGBL principles in a popular gaming genre embedded with textbook content identical to content in a traditional print-based textbook was used. Fifty-four undergraduate college students were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. The results showed a statistically significant, Hotelling’s T2 (2,52)=25.11, p<.001, D2=1.86 difference in engagement between participants in the experimental and control groups and a large overall effect size. Post hoc analyses indicated the digital game-based textbook group, exerted significantly greater mental effort (t = 2.38, p<.001, d=.65) and spent significantly more time on task (t = 4.61,  p < .025, d=1.25) than the traditional print-based textbook group.