By Rose Street
Chattanooga, TENN. (UTC/The Loop) – The issue of textbooks is a controversial one, and money is always at the forefront of the conversation. But, a question that is rarely asked is, “How do teachers choose their class’s textbooks anyway?” This will hopefully be a little insight into how.
So, the first question we need to ask is, “How do teachers get access to multiple books at a time?” According to one Brigham Young University professor, there exist textbook publishers who send several texts to teachers, and they read through all of them to determine which would be best for you, the student.
UTC professor, Michael Andrews of the Communication Department, says that he relies on “intellect and gut” when choosing textbooks for his classes. He continues on to say that there are many questions that he considers when choosing a textbook, like “Does the book communicate out the material well?” and “Does it offer enough material, like exercises and suggested tests, that I can draw off of that there is a variety?”
Based on the questions above, I have provided a bulleted list from the Brigham Young University question and answer blog “Dear Professor, Dear Student.” Below are eight questions from that blog that a professor might ask when choosing a textbook:
- Does the book’s content match well with the learning objectives for the course?
- Is the book’s presentation style consistent with how I think students would most consistently learn?
- Do the problems in each chapter provide good learning experiences for the students?
- Do students like the presentation in the textbook (layout, figures, etc.)? Is the book engaging?
- Is the textbook reasonably free from typographical and other errors?
- Is the cost reasonable?
- Do other professors like the textbook as well?
- Does the publisher use a reasonable time frame between new editions?
If this list doesn’t help, there are many checklists online that could, like the one here.
Now, teachers do rely on different criteria based on the specificity of their classes, like a foreign language class or a math class. But, there are certain criteria that many professors agree upon.The article “Planning a Course: Choosing and Using Instructional Materials” discusses several advantages and disadvantages to using a textbook. The most obvious advantage is that textbooks, when used properly, can aid in learning, and just like Professor Andrews said before, they can provide materials to help the teacher teach the students.
The video below shows a professor validating the use of textbooks.
But, there are some disadvantages. The first is that books are not interactive, and the second is that textbooks are usually thick, which can overwhelm students. Another disadvantage is that textbooks rely on dated information, and do not adapt as rapidly as modern technology, like computers.
After teachers choose the textbooks and put in their orders, that is where their involvement ends. Now, it is up to each student to choose whether or not they want to buy the textbook. I know from personal experience that sometimes I cannot afford to buy textbooks from the UTC bookstore, and I am sure that many other students have this problem.
There are a few articles that may help students in deciding whether or not to use textbooks or to be financially able to buy the textbooks that you need. Check out “Students Pay for Textbooks They Don’t Use,”The Budget Savvy UTC Student,” and “Affordable College Textbook Act Seeks to Ease Students’ Financial Burden.”
What do you think? Should professors require textbooks for their classes? Give your thoughts here.
I hope this was helpful in giving some insight into what teachers go through when choosing textbooks for their students. If you want to check out more articles concerning the issue of textbooks, check out the Communication Department blog, The Loop.