In the spring of 2017, the Alfred University (AU) Libraries conducted surveys of students and faculty about textbooks.
Below are some of the highlights from the surveys. You can view a complete summary of the results here.
- 20% of students spend $0-$100 per semester on textbooks, 52% spend $101-$300, 20% spend $301-$500, 7% spend $501-$800.
- Students reported that the high cost of textbooks has caused them to not purchase the text (47%), to charge texts to credit card even though they can’t afford them (25%), to forego essentials such as food or rent to pay for texts (23%), or to earn a poor grade because they could not afford the text (15%).
- 53% of students say that the high cost of textbooks sometimes prevents them from doing readings or assignments, and 11% say that it frequently prevents them from doing readings or assignments.
- 55% of faculty said that students occasionally tell them that they can’t afford the textbook for their class, and 20% of faculty said that students tell them this frequently.
- 55% of faculty had not heard of OERs prior to taking the survey, 10% of faculty say that they have assigned open textbooks in the past, and 9% were unsure.
- Faculty say that not knowing enough about OERs is the biggest barrier to using them, followed by a lack of OER resources in certain subject areas, concerns about quality, and not knowing where to find OER material.
- 60% of faculty say that they might be interested in using currently available OERs, and 27% say that they are definitely interested.
Since conducting the survey, the AU Libraries have engaged in a variety of activities to make faculty more aware of the impact of the cost of textbooks on our students and to share information about opportunities to use OERs in place of traditional textbooks.
Here are some of the steps we have taken:
- We shared the results of the surveys at a spring 2017 meeting of AU faculty.
- We developed some resources for faculty to make it easier for faculty to find Open Educational Resources.
- We are participating in a program sponsored by the State University of New York (SUNY) that provides stipends to faculty who adopt OERs as textbooks. A handful of faculty are participating in the program and we hope to grow participation going forward.
- We have encouraged faculty to put textbooks and other required readings on reserve at Herrick and Scholes Libraries.
- We have had some conversations with the bookstore about student concerns regarding the cost of textbooks and how we might collaborate around OERs.
Our goal is to continue raising awareness about the high cost of textbooks and the impact it has on students’ wallets and academic success. As always, we welcome your input and feedback.