Majority of students don’t buy textbook because of cost

Well, maybe it’s not surprising news that many students don’t buy all their required textbooks, but I was surprised by the high percentage reported in this survey conducted by the PIRG:

For the report, “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market,” more than 2,000 students at 156 college campuses in 33 states were surveyed during the fall of 2013. Sixty-five percent of the students said they were not buying all of their required textbooks because of the books’ cost, and 94 percent of those who didn’t buy the books reported being concerned about how that would affect their grades.

Again, maybe this isn’t surprising news. But if there is an issue like this that affects student learning *and* we can do something about it, why not give an open textbook a try? Here’s how one professor at the University of Minnesota tried out an open textbook:

Irene Duranczyk, an associate professor of postsecondary teaching and learning at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, said her students had had positive reactions to open textbooks. She began using open textbooks in the fall of 2012 out of concern about the cost of the required materials.

“I assigned the open textbook to half of my class while using a traditional text for the other half. The traditional textbook for my class cost about $180. The open textbook was free online, with the print version costing $32 at the bookstore,” Ms. Duranczyk said.

“They were happy, and so was I,” Ms. Duranczyk said. ”I could maintain my high standard of quality instruction while having the ability to customize the text to fit my teaching style.”

If you are an instructor at Kirkwood and you’d like to see what open textbook options there are for your course, I’d be happy to help. Just send me an email and we’ll get started! (kate.hess at


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