Faculty Watch 2015-16

Key Findings Report: Faculty Watch 2015-16 Academic Year

Faculty Select Materials Based on Quality, Cost, and Reputation

In selecting new course materials, the vast majority of faculty (81%) base their selection on the overall content quality of the book, including accuracy, layout, and structure. The second-most important factor in the decision-making process is the cost of the material to the student, along with familiarity and experience with the current edition.

Updating To New Editions

For the most part, faculty indicate they act responsibly in this situation, with the slight majority of 37% updating only when changes between versions become significant, and 21% making the switch to the latest materials when it becomes difficult for students to obtain the older edition. Still, a significant 36% of faculty indicated they adopt the newest release as soon as it becomes available.

Updating Course Content and Materials Based Upon Quality Content

Providing better materials for students and eliminating non-relevant materials ranked as the top reasons for changing course materials; a decisive 91% of instructors said they did not receive any incentives from publishers to change to a new edition or new book. Only 3% of faculty indicated they received a publisher incentive.

Faculty are Comfortable with Digital

Despite speculation to the contrary, the majority of faculty members indicate they are quite comfortable using digital technology in their classrooms; 52% say they are very to extremely comfortable using these materials. Interestingly, faculty with 10-plus years of teaching experience are just as likely to be comfortable using new formats as their younger counterparts.

Use of New Formats

Faculty are gradually adapting to new formats of course materials in their classrooms. Traditional printed textbooks remain the predominant format adopted by instructors, with 93% indicating that they have used printed textbooks over the past 12 months, but only 81% plan to do so again over the coming year. Thirty-six percent of faculty plan to incorporate eBooks into their curriculum during the next 12 months, and 28% will require students to obtain access codes for their classes.

Some New Formats Enhance Learning, Others Don’t

Only 11% feel that eBooks are more effective than printed versions; the majority 54% believe they are equally effective. The same is not true, however, of access codes and adaptive learning tools. Nearly half of faculty believe they are actually more effective in creating positive learning outcomes for students.

With regard to students learning better, faster, and retaining more information, faculty still favor printed textbooks, but they’re seeing positive results from access codes and adaptive learning solutions.

Faculty Recommend the
Campus Store

The vast majority of faculty make recommendations to their students about where to acquire their course materials and the campus store is far and away their top recommended retail location. Over 80% of faculty refer their students to the campus store for their materials, either in-store or online, and 36% point them to Amazon for their purchases. Top reasons for referring to the campus store are convenience, followed closely by confidence that students will get the right books. For those instructors that recommend other retail options, better pricing is the number one reason.