Do students really read books anymore and, if so, do they do so online? When was the last time they read a print book? What if students were awarded 25 extra credit points if they brought a print book to class, for verification purposes, and then sent a response about the experience?

That was the assignment, and students at Iowa State’s Tech and Social Change classes eagerly took advantage of it, experiencing the transformative power of print books.

At first, the vast majority of students struggled with their phones’ insistent pinging to such extent that some shut off their devices and even headed to the campus library–the book’s symbolic home–for the necessary quiet to comprehend the book’s contents. The vast majority of the class rediscovered their love of reading as well as comprehending, perhaps for the first time, how much time they were wasting on phones–texting, browsing, tweeting, etc.–and the consequences of “digital attention deficit disorder.”

In sum, they were empowered by focus.

That assignment was the basis of “And for Extra Credit: Read a Physical Book” published May 28 in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Now you can tune into “Talk of Iowa” with host Charity Nebbe interviewing Professor Michael Bugeja; Jessan Ashley-Gray, Dr. Bugeja’s former student and ISU alumnus; and Katy Kauffman, president of the Iowa Association of School Librarians.

For more information about the podcast, visit “Talk of Iowa” at this URL: https://www.iowapublicradio.org/post/surprising-benefits-real-books

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