Textbooks have been in a long-standing battle with students in higher education. Purchasing different textbooks each semester is an expense that can add up quickly to well over hundreds of dollars. Some professors require that their own self-authored textbook must be purchased for the course, the relation of the textbook to the course is one of the biggest issues students have found.
According to The National Association of College Stores (NACS), the average college student will spend $655 on textbooks each year, but with a single textbook easily costing as much as $300, that total can easily be much higher. In fact, the College Board puts the annual cost of books and materials at $1,168.
In the article, “How The Professors Assign Their Own Books With a Clean Conscience,” by Chris Quintana from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Quintana discusses the ethical means of professors assigning students to purchase their self-authored textbooks to make money.
“Jane Robbins, an adjunct instructor at Bryant University, studies conflict of interest in higher education, and she questioned the need for assigning one’s own work. Robbins, who has written about the topic, said it’s a human response to think one’s work is the best material on the market, even though most textbooks could be interchangeable. The issue, she emphasized, is not about using self-produced material, but in getting paid for that material. In doing so, she said, an instructor raises the appearance of assigning material for personal gain,” wrote Quintana.
Waco sophomore Michael Karr was in a chemistry class that was required to purchase a fictional novel called “Chemistry in Whispering Caves.” written by the professor teaching the course.
“It seemed really strange that a professor would make students buy a book that they wrote,” Karr said.
The class was also required to do a book report on the novel even though the students said it had no correlation to the chemistry course.
“It goes from a book report to an excuse to have us pay money for their book which seems kind of selfish,” he said.
“Chemistry in Whispering Caves” is currently priced at $331.01 on Amazon.com.
In contrast, many professors have authored textbooks that contain relative information and encourage learning. Dr. Christopher Pieper, a sociology professor at Baylor, authored “The Sociological Vision.” Pieper uses this textbook as the basis for class, and it is a required text for his intro to sociology class.
Redlands, Calif. junior Julia Partida took Intro to Sociology with Pieper during the her sophomore year. Partida said Pieper’s textbook was essential to their learning within the course. The lectures and exams in the class were based off of the information in the book, according to Partida.
“The book was well written, and he was overall a great professor who gave us the tools to be successful in his class,” Partida said. “I felt like his book and lectures gave me an overall good understanding of sociology.”
“The Sociological Vision” is currently priced at $140.00, and the book supplement is currently priced at $159.00 on Amazon.com.