From the press release:
Research finds overwhelming percentage of faculty feel students need texts to succeedÂ… and they prefer them in print

New York, NY (April 18, 2012) — A first ever survey of college faculty perceptions toward classroom materials found that professors continue to equate their own and their students’ successes in the classroom to the use of materials such as textbooks and most prefer print formats. Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education, led by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and powered by Bowker Market Research, reveals that 93 percent of faculty feel students who use required course materials receive higher grades in class. An even higher percentage feel the use of these materials by students enables professors to be more effective teachers.

“The emergence of e-books has led to a lot of confusion in the marketplace about what faculty want from publishers,” said Angela Bole, BISG’s Deputy Executive Director. “While students may be the ultimate consumers of course materials, professors are not only influencers, they are the decision-makers. Understanding where they fit on the e- versus print continuum is essential for any organization serving this market.”

Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education is a companion to BISG’s Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education, which provides a unique counterpoint to the new study. Results from these studies show that print continues to be the dominant format made available by faculty, as well as the format most often selected by students. While 32 percent of faculty said they make e-book options available, only 2 percent of students select them as the primary way to access content.

“Linkages between the student and faculty surveys across issues are extremely valuable,” said Andy Fisher, Market Research Director for Cengage Learning, a sponsor of the study. “Higher education publishers must balance the needs of both students and faculty. The comparison points enable us to measure attitudes and how they impact behavior.”

Indeed, comparing results from the two studies shows that faculty are lagging slightly behind students in fondness for e-texts: 12 percent of faculty prefer this emerging format to print, while 16 percent of students prefer “e” to “p.” Of faculty members who have already adopted an e-textbook (20 percent), 90 percent are pleased with the results and say they will likely adopt an e-text in the future. Faculty who have not yet adopted an e-textbook provide several reasons for preferring print: ease of bookmarking, higher levels of engagement, preference for the look and feel of print, and students’ lack of devices for viewing e-textbooks.

“This is the kind of data that allows us to see what’s behind the sales trends,” said Christine McFadden, Director of Strategic Marketing, Intellectual Property, at Follett Higher Education Group, a sponsor of the study. “When we understand the ‘why’ behind the decision, we can more accurately predict when and how the trends will shift.”

Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education also provides insight into the textbook selection process faculty employ. More than half of faculty surveyed (57 percent) indicated that textbook selections were based on individual choice. More than three-quarters prefer materials with which they already have experience and most hesitate to adopt a new edition until necessary. Further, 60 percent are heeding student concerns about the expense of texts and prefer materials that are available at a low cost to students. The same percentage advise students on where to find required course materials, but only 30 percent believe that bookstores are providing adequate information about format and price options for students.

Findings from Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education came from an online survey of college professors and administrators, drawn from a nationally representative panel. To ensure the survey questions explored the appropriate trends and issues, they were developed in partnership with publishers and other companies working in the higher education market place.

The survey findings are available for sale both as a PDF summary report and as a complete data compendium, accessible online. A substantial discount is available for BISG members. The first Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education report is available as of April 2012. For more information or to order a copy, please visit http://www.bisg.org/publications/product.php?p=25&c=437.

(Via BISG.org > Latest News.)


  1. The curious indication from faculty and student surveys on the comparative use of print and screen texts is an expressed enthusiasm for both display methods. Just such a curiosity should be followed-up. The surveys should ask, “Are both print and screen displays necessary for efficient learning.?” And following that, “Do you suspect that print and screen displays of texts are complementary for efficient learning? Do you suspect that they may even be interdependent?”

    Faculty are not unaware of strategies for learning. Publishers could leverage new indications that print and screen books work together.

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