How to Choose Textbooks

textbook buying fairChoosing the right textbooks for courses is not an easy task. Depending on the instructors’ and students’ level of reliance on a reference material to acquire needed content, the wrong choice of textbook can confound the learning process, waste class time, pauperize learners, skew information, or even sabotage instructional goals.

A well-seasoned professor or academic supervisor can attest that choosing the right book is not that simple. There is a need to look at several published materials that can possibly serve the purpose of effective instruction and learning. Anyone who is selecting books for courses must aim to match those materials with the instructor, the course, and the students.

Matching with instructor

What is the instructor supposed or intend to do with the book? Will the material fit with his style of teaching? The ‘sage on the stage’ or traditional lecturing style has become passé today. There is a need for more enlightened and innovative instructional methods. It will not hurt to choose textbooks that will be slightly divergent to allow students to logically question their own learning and fill in any gap without losing motivation to learn.

The book should cover everything that has to be covered in class. This way, the instructor can rest assured that even if a student misses a session, he will still easily catch up on lessons. Most of all, in this regard, the reference material should teach. It should divide important content into smaller and more manageable chunks for easier assimilation.

Matching with course

When choosing a textbook for a course, the succeeding and related undergraduate and graduate courses should be considered. If the course is on the introductory level, a core book will be more useful. Thought-provoking and more advanced books can be saved for the second-tier or higher courses.

Fortunately, publishers do their own research to determine the right treatment and mix of their books’ content. It is safe to check out recommendations directly from them. Thus, it is noticeable that almost all textbooks are in proper sequence and scope to facilitate better teaching and learning of courses.

Matching with students

Why are students taking the course? This question should serve as an effective guide to textbook selection. If they are just forced to take the subject, they should get standard and foundational knowledge from the material. If the course is preparatory for practice, the book must focus on theory into mechanics, practice, or application.

A more realistic assessment of abilities and knowledge level of students should be done for proper selection of textbooks. Proximal development should not be overlooked. The difficulty and readability level of books should always be looked at.

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