Surveys provide chance at cheaper textbooks
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 23:12
Since July 1, 2010, the federal law Higher Education Opportunity Act has been in effect. According to the associate dean of the College of Science and Technology, Patricia Biesiot, the purpose of this act is to ensure that students have access to affordable course materials by increasing transparency and disclosure about the “selection, purchase, sale and use of all course materials.” Biesiot is the current Chair of the Southern Miss Textbook and Course Materials Advisory Committee.
“Basically, the intent of HEAO is to reduce textbook costs,” Biesiot said. “That’s why instructors are now required to report, through the university bookstore, the ISBN numbers of all textbooks and to identify other course materials.” This is required to be complete by the time students register for classes in order to give them enough time to look at other stores in order to compare prices.
“Southern Miss is committed to reducing the costs of textbooks and course materials,” she explained. “Renting books or purchasing used books is one way to do so.” Biesiot also suggests the use of e-books in order to save money, but many students and faculty don’t choose this option.
Students may purchase or rent textbooks, new or used, through the university-affiliated bookstore, Barnes and Noble. Other commercial bookstores around town also allow this option. Many students will sell used books at a discounted price.
“Because Southern Miss faculty reported the ISBNs for their fall textbook adoptions back in March, before students registered for their Fall classes, Barnes and Noble was able to buy back more student books this year than last,” Biesiot explained. “That meant more money went back to students for their old books and more used books were available in the Barnes and Noble inventory for purchase this semester.” Barnes and Noble was also able to purchase more used books from their vendors because they had an early start on purchasing the items.
According to Biesiot, students’ savings increased more than $100,000 in fall 2012 compared to fall 2011. “This is because of a six percent increase in used book sales and a two percent increase in rental book sales.”
The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning has now established statewide guidelines and goals addressing the coast of textbooks and instructional materials, all because of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. They are also ensuring compliance with the act. “One of the Institutions requirements is that we ‘shall provide faculty and students with results from surveys of student satisfaction with textbooks.’” Results of the surveys will be posted on the Provost’s website.
“We now use a student textbook survey that is separate from the student course evaluation on SOAR.” There is also a new faculty textbook survey that uses the same questions. “Because online SOAR Textbook Survey is a new process for students, and for faculty, this semester we offered an incentive to students to fill it out for all their classes by the Nov. 16 deadline,” says Biesiot. So now two students are $100 richer because they filled out the survey.