Is this textbook required? Can I use an older edition? Does the library have this book? These are common questions raised by students at the beginning of every semester. The reason why they are so common is very simple: textbooks are expensive. In the last 20 years, their price increased over 200%, while college tuition increased 191%, both way above the overall inflation (+57.4%, Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Bashe Simon, director of Touro Libraries, initiated a project to raise awareness of open textbooks. Open textbooks are resources that are available at no cost under aCreative Commons license. This allows them to be downloaded, stored, distributed, revised, and remixed to suit the instructor’s need. They are free and have been used in numerous higher education institutions with great success (see, for example, this project by Tidewater Community College).
Sara Tabaei and Juliana Terciotti Magro now lead the project that Mrs. Simon envisioned. During their meeting at the Deans’ Council, the library’s proposal was met with much interest and enthusiasm. Dr. Carole Beckford, chair of the Psychology Department at the New York School of Career and Applied Studies, who was also concerned with the rise of textbook prices and its impact on students’ education, expressed her eagerness to discuss the use of psychology open textbooks.
In her own words, “Facilitating students’ access to reasonably priced textbooks has always been a priority in our department. We have informed them about online vendors, encouraged them to rent books, and adopted bundles that included digital or print books at significant discounts. After limited success was achieved with these efforts, we considered other options. Several instructors knew of open textbooks and discussed the possibility of using them. Although we were curious when colleagues in the Link program reported positive results with these resources, we had reservations about quality issues.”Sara Tabaei and Juliana Terciotti Magro now lead the project that Mrs. Simon envisioned. During their meeting at the Deans’ Council, the library’s proposal was met with much interest and enthusiasm. Dr. Carole Beckford, chair of the Psychology Department at the New York School of Career and Applied Studies, who was also concerned with the rise of textbook prices and its impact on students’ education, expressed her eagerness to discuss the use of psychology open textbooks.
During the library’s presentation at their department meeting, the Psychology facultymembers were able to voice their concerns and gather the information needed about the textbook contributors, as well as the review process that justified their consideration of the products. The librarian then compared their current commercial textbooks against the open textbooks available. This facilitated the process, since the professors did not have to search for the textbooks themselves.
After reviewing books in general psychology and research methods, Morris Bronstein, Princess Coombs, Carrie DiMatteo and Rira Lamarre signed on. This upcoming fall, open textbooks are being used in seven sections of General Survey of Psychology and two sections of Experimental Psychology. By making this change, these professors helped students save $14,833.41 that would have been spent in purchasing textbooks.
In addition to the Psychology Department, Yakov Peter, from the Lander College for Men, will also use an open textbook in his course on anatomy and physiology.
These professors’ willingness to use a high-quality free textbook in their courses will translate into significant savings to our students and, in turn, assist them in their studies and grades. If you are interested in reviewing open textbooks available in your field, contact Juliana Terciotti Magro (email@example.com) or Sara Tabaei (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Contributed by Dr. Carole Beckford, Psychology Chair at NYSCAS, and Juliana Terciotti Magro, Information Literacy & Instruction Librarian at Midtown.
The article above was adapted from the article originally published at the September 2018 issue of Touro Faculty Focus: An Update from Academic Affairs.