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Old 09-12-2013, 07:42 PM   #31
speakingtohe
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I don't really think corruption is often involved, just a particular form of elitism. If it costs more it must be better, and even if it is not better, I am not going to teach a course based on cheap textbooks. How would that look to the world. If they want to take my course they can pay through the nose.

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Old 09-13-2013, 03:18 AM   #32
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Agree that the cost of college textbooks is ridiculous, and the most scandalous thing for me is that the more basic the material, the more outrageous the price in relative terms: for "principles of..." books, of which there are zillions, prices charted run well into the £40-50 in the UK, which is not justified in the vast majority of cases.

But as somebody else said, publishers offer a wealth of other accessory services to teachers (from class management to test banks and so on) that as a teacher of 300+ students you may be tempted to indulge in. Some people feel extremely strongly against falling for these inducements because of the large costs they impose, but if you add that many students, especially in their first or second year, resent not having "the" textbook and being directed to a mixture of lecture notes, material in the library and/or publicly available on the web, etc, sadly it is not surprising that teachers may feel like going along with this massive rip off.

I think part of the reason harks back to the change of the way education is viewed: students become more and more customers that expects a service. As the real value of the education received becomes clear to most students only after they have left, to keep them happy while they are in, many Universities bend over backwards to enhance the so called student experience, and I am afraid that keeping them entertained with courses offering all sorts of bells and whistles is one of the consequences. Whether or not this has a real effect on education is a different matter: there was a recent study (I'll look for the reference later) where students of more boring, sterner lecturers on average performed better than students of more engaging, lively ones...
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Old 09-13-2013, 09:32 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by paola View Post
Some people feel extremely strongly against falling for these inducements because of the large costs they impose, but if you add that many students, especially in their first or second year, resent not having "the" textbook and being directed to a mixture of lecture notes, material in the library and/or publicly available on the web, etc, sadly it is not surprising that teachers may feel like going along with this massive rip off.
Agreed. Yet I would say that it goes beyond treating students like customers. The vast majority of high schools do not prepare students for university. The best high schools will give students more advanced work and will force students to take more responsibility for completing that work, but I have yet to see a high school that will force students to take responsibility for their own studies (e.g. going outside of the textbook and class handouts for anything more than a research project). In a sense, that makes sense. Secondary schools are geared towards teaching the curriculum. In terms of the quantity of information to be covered, that curriculum is frequently more heavily loaded than what you see in university courses. (University courses tend to cover more advanced materials, but that is different from hitting every curriculum expectation.)

Given that, the first year or two of university is often a transitionary period. Course textbooks have to be more detailed because students have to go back to cover materials that are not taught in class. Ideally students would seek out that information on their own, but it takes time to build up that work ethic.
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Old 09-13-2013, 11:42 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by BWinmill View Post
Agreed. Yet I would say that it goes beyond treating students like customers. The vast majority of high schools do not prepare students for university. The best high schools will give students more advanced work and will force students to take more responsibility for completing that work, but I have yet to see a high school that will force students to take responsibility for their own studies (e.g. going outside of the textbook and class handouts for anything more than a research project).
The high schools can only do so much with the kids that come out of the elementary and middle schools. That's where you need to raise standards. By the time they reach high school, it's already too late.

Trouble is, if you actually push elementary school kids to doing more challenging work, their parents will get all up in your face and threaten to sue.
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Old 09-13-2013, 08:04 PM   #35
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Are students required to only buy from the college bookstore?\
No, they are able to purchase their textbooks elsewhere; however, the college requires that I work through the campus bookstore. If I was higher on the totem poll--I'm just an adjunct--I might be able to circumvent the bookstore. I would also have things like health insurance and paid time off, so there you go.

I always try to select a course reader with a "without readings" version since that is generally cheaper. As long as my students come prepared for class, it makes no different to me how they acquired the books or readings.

Our bookstore will only order enough books for 80% of the students in a class since they anticipate that some students will purchase their books elsewhere. The publishers charge a "restocking" fee for returned books, so the bookstore manager dislikes purchasing more than are needed. Of course, this practice means that I have to push my lessons back by a week because ~6 students will be waiting for their books to arrive from Amazon.
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Old 09-13-2013, 08:18 PM   #36
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Not exactly. But posts #15, #16, and #21 are evidence in that direction.
Just to clear up any misunderstanding, I do not have any evidence that new books result in higher profits margins than reselling used books would. I just know that if the bookstore does not have enough used copies of an old text in stock, it has to order more copies from the publisher, which will (usually, I'm sure exceptions exist) only send out the newest edition.

In some cases, the differences between editions can be as minor as a word changed in the title or switching between hardback and paperback. In that case, I will write "ANY EDITION!!!!" on the acquisition form and hope for the best.
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Old 09-13-2013, 09:38 PM   #37
Andrew H.
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I think you can't talk about the cost of college textbooks without talking about the cost of college itself:

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Old 09-14-2013, 10:39 AM   #38
paola
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWinmill
The vast majority of high schools do not prepare students for university. The best high schools will give students more advanced work and will force students to take more responsibility for completing that work, but I have yet to see a high school that will force students to take responsibility for their own studies (e.g. going outside of the textbook and class handouts for anything more than a research project).
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Originally Posted by teh603 View Post
The high schools can only do so much with the kids that come out of the elementary and middle schools. That's where you need to raise standards. By the time they reach high school, it's already too late.

Trouble is, if you actually push elementary school kids to doing more challenging work, their parents will get all up in your face and threaten to sue.
isn't this so very terribly sad?!
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