The Direct Network


Why Now? The Adoption Answers You Need for Faculty

Posted by Lori Reese on Mar 28, 2018 5:31:00 AM
Topics: textbook affordability, online bookstore, adoptions, faculty

It’s a distraction, an onerous bit of red tape or just an abstract requirement that seems out-of-step with classroom reality: Your earnest early-adoption notice ends up deleted, routed to junk mail or ignored because faculty don’t understand why you’re sending requests out so early.  If you want teachers to cooperate with the official bookstore schedule, it’s critical to anticipate their questions, understand confusion and offer succinct, concrete answers.

Why Now? The Adoption Answers You Need for Faculty

Answers to 3 Big Faculty Questions About Adoptions

Question 1: Why order books for a new semester when the term has just begun?

The Faculty View: The bookstore demands for course material orders are ludicrous. Good teachers develop their courses as they go, experimenting with new approaches and materials, discovering what works and what doesn’t. An adoption request that arrives three weeks after the semester has begun is asking me to judge the success of my current course with insufficient information. Good instructors keep their syllabi fresh, relying on a few texts that prove teachable while introducing new challenges.

These adoption requests encourage pedagogical stagnation.

While not all faculty work like this, few develop courses on the same schedule as the bookstore. They need to know how the early adoption requests affect student lives and, especially, student learning.

The Short Answer:  Book prices hinge on supply and demand. Early adoptions allow students or families to buy and sell books at prime times when they can save the most or get the best prices. They also give students access to more used books. Studies show students are less likely to buy books — and be prepared for class — if prices are high.

Question 2: Why would my students want to sell their books?

The Faculty View: I choose course materials carefully, looking for texts students can use throughout their academic career. I encourage students to underline, highlight and make notes in books. That’s solid pedagogy. Reading actively increases readers’ engagement. Active readers experience more academic success.

Although it may seem absurd, many faculty members need to be reminded that students are broke. They also tend to be avid book collectors and therefore value their books differently than most students.

Be as concrete as possible when you answer this question, and don’t be afraid to tug at their heartstrings.

The Short Answer: Textbook costs have soared 73% in recent years. K – 12 families suffer.  Some have to rethink private school. Many higher education students are food insecure. Some are at risk of homelessness. The $50 savings a student receives from a used book or a timely adoption could be his or her grocery money. It could be money needed for books next semester.

Question 3: Why would early orders help my students get more money back for their books?

The Faculty View: If students want to sell their books back, that’s fine, but my book-order date shouldn’t influence that. They’re selling the books from my class at the same time they sell them back for other classes — no matter when I order them. What’s more, these days, they can sell their books anywhere, anytime.

This question is tricky, because you don’t want your faculty communications buried in industry jargon or tedious detail — i.e. inside baseball. Try this response.

The Short Answer:  When you order early, the official bookstore knows the text will be in demand the following term. It can offer a higher buyback price than students would get from an outside vendor. The best deals are available locally. Don’t forget: the additional $50 a student makes from that book might be the difference between paying December rent — or not.

Stay tuned to Direct Network for more about how best to communicate well with faculty.

10 Ways Savvy Adoptions Lead to Student Savings

About Lori Reese

Lori Reese has more than 15 years’ experience teaching in college and K-12 classrooms. She studied philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, earned an MA in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University and an MFA from University of North Carolina - Greensboro. At UNCG she won the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award and received a Fulbright to conduct research for a novel in Sri Lanka. She has taught undergraduate creative writing, composition and literature as well as seminars for the Lloyd International International Honors Program. She worked in private K-12 education for two years as an English teacher and Academic Dean.

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