Year of Award

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Education

Department or School/College

College of Education and Human Sciences

Committee Chair

David Erickson

Commitee Members

Lucila Rudge, Fletcher Brown

Keywords

science, education, student-written, textbook, college

Publisher

University of Montana

Subject Categories

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Abstract

Textbooks are ubiquitous tools in college classes, particularly in the sciences. Regular use of textbooks to complement science coursework can foster academic achievement and scientific literacy. Textbooks are chronically underused in college study due to high costs, challenging and time-intensive content, and perceived low value. In response, professors are increasingly using textbook alternatives including open textbooks, etextbooks, and wikis. Each has unique strengths and weaknesses.

Student-written textbooks are a less common, but growing, resource used to offer a low-cost alternative to publisher textbooks using collections of student research and writing. Student-written textbooks carry the possible benefits for students of supporting engagement and ownership in their coursework while enhancing writing and collaborative skills.

Student satisfaction is one critical indicator of textbook value. Other important features of quality textbooks include readability, quality images, ancillary perks, and pedagogical aids such as summaries and glossaries. This project explored student satisfaction with a student-written textbook in one general education biology course at a two-year college in Missoula, Montana. Anonymous survey responses from two sections of this course informed specific additions to one chapter of the textbook to test for changes in student satisfaction in subsequent classes. A second anonymous survey explored chapter-specific student preferences alongside additional questions related to student use of the textbook.

In spite of survey-inspired, research-supported additions to the student-written textbook, students in the second survey showed no disproportionate preference for the augmented chapter. Students might experience their reading on a more whole-textbook level or their preferences might be more strongly influenced by features other than those added to the textbook chapter, such as content, perceived utility, and readability. Survey responses suggest a high degree of satisfaction with the student-written textbook, to the point that differences in student responses between separate questions were not discernible. The continued use of the student-written textbook is supported by the review of literature and the research findings. Specific strategies for future research and improvements to the student-written textbook are discussed in detail.

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© Copyright 2017 Greg Peters