New survey hopes to find link between cost, format, availability of textbooks

Olivia Smith, Reporter

All SUNY Buffalo State students and faculty members received an email about the Faculty Textbook Survey in September. This survey is a SUNY-wide joint initiative between Instructional Resources and E. H. Butler Library.  For most students, the email was most likely ignored, but this survey will help students voice their preferences when it comes to textbooks.

Ginger Bidell, instructional designer in Instructional Resources, hopes the survey can discover correlations between cost, format, and availability of textbooks. Academic Outreach and Engagement Librarian Leah Galka added that discovering to what extent purchasing textbooks can financially hurt students is also important.

Students’ opinions about what they prefer to use in the classroom is also necessary.

“With an ever-increasing range of options – from free, open textbooks to traditional print to interactive digital – it can be difficult to know what type of textbook or other learning materials really work best to facilitate learning,” Galka said.

Bidell also stresses the importance of textbooks in relation to a student’s grades.

“We believe that textbook costs and availability issues adversely affect student success,” Bidell said.

Based on results of the collected data, students should expect to see an improvement in affordability and accessibility, according to Bidell.

However, nothing can be guaranteed at this point, because the information will be shown to the Buffalo State administration first. If strong preferences are shown in a specific area, efforts can be directed toward it.

The survey will also tell if students prefer textbooks to eBooks. Online textbooks are generally less expensive when compared to physical textbooks. However, students have to have Internet access, and some students prefer being able to highlight for study purposes.

Studies do not show a strong preference in a specific category so far, but the Buffalo State survey should be able to address that.

“Whether you love them or hate them, let us know by completing the survey,” Galka said.

As for many college students, buying textbooks costs a great deal of money every semester. Of course, prices of textbooks differ per class, but students still struggle with the high prices of their books.

Galka and Bidell stress that changes can only be made with student participation. The survey will not be as effective as it can be without student feedback.

The survey will close on Oct. 16. Be sure to participate using the link provided in your email.


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