Useful Resources about Textbooks

Literature on K-12 school textbooks and college textbooks is often intertwined. We focus primarily on higher education textbook concerns, but insightful K-12 textbook references are also listed. This is a work in progress--suggestions and contributions are welcome.

Textbook History, Evaluation, and Research

Reflections on the Study of Textbooks, (November, 2004). Issitt, J., History of Education, v. 33, n. 6, p. 683-696.

Examines some of the intellectual issues encountered in the study of textbooks (definitions of textbooks, voice of the author, ideology in textbooks, and passive pedagogy), and surveys some of the current types of research into textbooks. Identifies "key" resources (journals, research groups, texts) related to textbook research.

Textbooks in the kaleidoscope : a critical survey of literature and research on educational texts, (1993). Johnsen, E. B., translated by Sivesind, L. Scandinavian University Press/Oxford University Press, Oslo/New York, 455p.
International survey of the recent literature and research on textbooks. Looking at textbooks published in English, French, German, and the Nordic languages, the author discusses approaches, methods, and results in light of trends in general textbook theory. He also applies perspectives derived from the philosophy of science, education, and linguistics to three main approaches: process-oriented, use-oriented, and product-oriented textbook research. Chris Stray reviews this text in the on-line forum, Paradigm.
Textbooks in American Society: Politics, Policy, and Pedagogy, (1991). Altbach, P. G., Kelly, G. P., Petrie, H. G., and Weis, L. (eds.), State University of New York Press, Albany, 261 pages.
One of the "Frontiers in Edcuation" series from SUNY. Various perspectives on the highly complex textbook debate are presented in this book, which includes essays by educators, publishers, policymakers, and scholars. Currently, the advocates of higher academic standards, coherence, and quality occupy the strongest position in the debate. Chapter 11, Textbook Writing and Ideological Management: A Postmodern Approach by college textbook author, J. Spring advocates for textbooks with original material that stimulate debate, invoke critique of their content, and include scholarly contributions. Chapter 9, American Textbook Reform: What Can We Learn from the Soviet Experience, suggests that U. S. textbooks are received critically because, among other things, the books try to do everything (broad content, critical thinking skills, pedagogical aids, lowest common denominator for test-taking, glossy appearance) with a resultant high cost. Author, H. Mehlinger, also advocates for telescoping content over several years, rather than confining to a single course.

Textbook Publishing and Costs

National Association of College Stores (NACS): College Textbooks

Higher Education Retail Market Facts and Figures 2011. - College and Universities - General Information - College Students - Demographics and Spending - College Stores - Market Information - College Textbooks - General Information
Association of American Publishers (AAP): Higher Education Division
Spokesgroup site that includes listings for higher education publishing news, press releases, education innovations, accessibility, and recently, responses to concerns about textbook costs.
Campaign to Reduce College Textbook Costs
The Affordable Textbooks Campaign is a coalition of Student PIRGs and Student Government Associations in fourteen states. The site has link to their publications: "Rip-off 101: 2nd Ed., How the Publishing Industry's Practices Needlessly Drive Up Textbook Costs," Feb. 2005, "Textbooks For the 21st Century: A Guide To Free And Low Cost Textbooks," Aug. 2006, "Required Reading: A Look at the Worst Publishing Tactics at Work," Oct. 2006, and others.
US Congressional Actions
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce asked the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance (ACSFA) to report by May 2007 on college textbook costs (June 5, 2006) Download request (Acrobat (PDF) 71kB Nov28 06), based on news reports and the 2005 congressionally-requested U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study: "COLLEGE TEXTBOOKS: Enhanced Offerings Appear to Drive Recent Price Increases" Download (Acrobat (PDF) 7.9MB Nov28 06). Of note: the AAP disagrees with some of the data sources in the GAO report. A news report from NACS outlines some of the Sept. 19, 2006 testimony from NACS and AAP to congress in response to the recent ACSFA-requested College Textbook Cost Study Plan Proposal Download proposal (Acrobat (PDF) 138kB Dec5 06) by economist, J. Koch.
State-level Legislative Actions
Richard Hershman, director of Government Relations for the National Association of College Stores, identifies states that have taken legislative or policy action related to textbook affordability. This update highlights New England. Download (Acrobat (PDF) 123kB Dec5 06)

Pedagogy Resources

Scientific Teaching, (April 23, 2004). Handelsman, J., Ebert-May, D., Beichner, R., Bruns, P., Chang, A., DeHaan, R., Gentile, J., Lauffer, S., Stewert, J., Tilghman, S. M., and Wood, W. B., Science, Vol. 304, p. 521-522.

Science Policy Forum on Education. Advocates using informed and innovative teaching methods for teaching science. Download (Acrobat (PDF) 103kB Nov16 06)
Laptops and Literacy: Learning in the Wireless Classroom, (2006). Warschauer, M., Teacher's College Press, Columbia University, New York, 178 pages.
Presents studies of implementing "one-to-one laptop" programs in K-12 schools. Suggests that wireless laptops are good tools to improve "word" literacy (learning to read) and also "world" literacy (reading to learn). Laptops help with multiple literacies: reading, writing, information processing, and multimedia production.
Learning Strategies and Performance In a Technology Integrated Classroom, (Spring 2006). Debevec, K., Shih, M., and Kashyap, V., Journal of Research on Technology in Education, Volume 38 Number 3.
Examines students' use of technology for learning (accessing the course Web site to download PowerPoint slides for note taking and exam preparation) relative to more traditional learning methods (reading the textbook and taking notes in class and from the textbook) and the effect of their learning strategies on exam performance and class attendance.
Evaluation of Three Educational Online Delivery Approaches, (April 6-8, 1997). Edwards, C., and Fritz, J. H., In: Mid-South Instructional Technology Conference Proceedings, 2nd, Murfreesboro, TN.
From the article: "Student perceptions reported here suggest that online and mediated forms of delivery may replace the traditional textbook format, at least for those students who accept and learn from online modes. Read article

General Resources

Initial Workshop Summary, (May 31, 2006). Bierman, P.

Summarizes findings of the May 24-26, 2006 NSF Workshop on "Reconsidering the Textbook." Download (Acrobat (PDF) 154kB May31 06)

Enabling Technologies

Sony Reader. Book-shaped electronic viewing device with "paper-like" display (works in direct sunlight) for 80 books' worth of text.