There is a new fad going on and the professors of West Chester University are becoming a part of it. Has anyone noticed that some professors are now writing their own textbooks or requiring students to purchase a manuscript of photocopied papers? Two of our professors-Dr. Bolton who is a part of the Department of Professional & Secondary Education Faculty, and Dr. Anita Foeman, who is a part of the Department of Communication Studies-shared their experiences and thoughts on this topic. When asked why they decided to do away with regular textbooks, they both had similar responses. According to Dr. Bolton, he stated that he didn’t refer much to the textbooks that he was requiring his students to purchase. For the most part, he would make photo copies of the materials which soon became expensive, so he combined them into one book and required his students to purchase the packet. Several years ago, Dr. Bolton stated he actually tried to “publish” his course notes through a textbook company. It was much more expensive then putting a packet of photo copied material together. On the other hand, Dr. Foeman’s reason was she liked the idea of being able to control and change the material that her students were reading. Like regular textbooks, they add new material when they feel the need to.According to a representative from the SSI Bookstore, there are several steps that are necessary before the packet makes it to the bookstores. First, the professors gather all the information for their packets, and they have to get clearance from the university before they can get it published. Once they get the clearance, the professor puts the information on a CD and gives it to the bookstore. The professors also tell the bookstore the order in which they want the packet and the number of copies that are required. The bookstore then sends the packet out to be copyrighted and published. The publisher provides the bookstore with the cost of copyrighting and publishing the packet. The students are then charged the cost plus a mark-up of 23% and up for the packets. As we are aware, some of them packets cost just as much as a regular textbook. For some professors this is the only book they require the packet while others require two or more regular textbooks. At time of publication, a representative from Dynamic Bookstore, where the majority of the packets are sold, was unavailable for a comment.
Aside from talking to professors at WCU, students from Dr. Bolton’s and Dr. Foeman’s classes got a chance to provide their opinions about the packet. West Chester University students feel that the packets are a good resources because it gives them a more personal aspect of the professor and their thoughts about the class. The packets also give more examples and descriptive details that the students may not find in a regular textbook. The students also stated that it was easier to keep up with the handouts when they are put together in the packet, but that they felt that the packets were too expensive.
Although only two professors were interviewed, there are many more professors that make-up their own packets. The question is how many more professors will do this and will we eventually be required to buy packets made by professors instead of regular textbooks?