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Study: Many Faculty Still Don’t Know Where to Start with Textbook Affordability Issue

stack of open textbooks

The vast majority (82 percent) of college and university faculty are responsible for selecting course materials for at least one of their courses, yet 35 percent in a recent survey said they don't know where to start or what to do to reduce the cost of those materials. The survey, conducted by OnCampus Research, the research arm of the National Association of College Stores, polled 1,513 faculty at 21 higher education institutions to gauge their opinions on course materials, selection considerations, format preferences, affordability issues and more.

While wondering where to start was the No. 1 obstacle keeping faculty from participating in textbook affordability efforts, survey respondents also reported lack of time as well as bureaucracy/red tape as additional hurdles.

Still, according to the survey, one in five courses required no purchasing of course materials. One-third of faculty members said they used open education resources in the past year, and 74 percent said they have at least some awareness of OER.

Forty-nine percent of faculty reported they prefer the print format for course materials — a decrease of 11 percentage points from the previous year. Of those, 39 percent preferred a print textbook with added digital elements (such as interactive features and quizzes). Only 16 percent of faculty said they preferred an all-digital textbook.

The full report, "Faculty Watch: Attitudes & Behaviors Toward Course Materials, 2018-2019," is available for purchase from the OnCampus Research site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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