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Students, teachers argue necessity of textbooks at university level

Written By Zac Seymour

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Some students shell out hundreds of dollars for textbooks, only to find out later in the semester that they didn’t need to be purchased after all — causing students to question the signifance of buying or renting their books.

Freshman mass communication major Ian Brady knows the feeling all too well.

“Coming into my first semester, I spent upwards of $300 on six textbooks and only used one of them,” Brady said.

Freshmen aren’t the only ones to fall victim to the required textbook system. Sophomore secondary English education major and resident educator Daniel Strickland spent $200 to $300 on six textbooks, and he only used four of them.

“I think certain professors really need to evaluate their syllabus and determine if it is worth it for the students to actually purchase the textbook,” Strickland said. “I don’t think it’s fair to ask students to purchase textbooks and then never ask about the content later in the course.”

Some students buy all of the required textbooks according to the syllabi, and others risk it and wait to see if they actually need the textbooks.

Regardless, students usually have to buy one book they thought they could go without, or go through the semester without the professor even dusting the cover off the $100 loose-leaf that was already taken out of the plastic, voiding any chance of getting a refund.

“I think a lot of times that is a decision made by the school and not the professor, which is why I normally wait to buy my textbooks until professors have gone over their syllabi with the class,” Brady said.

Some students wonder if textbooks belong on college campuses.

“Textbooks are a crutch for the professor,” Brady said.

Adjunct Assistant Professor Matthew Fazio, who requires students to purchase a textbook for his classes, said otherwise.

“Textbooks will always be a part of literature classes,” Fazio said.

Fazio is a part-time faculty member at Robert Morris University and Marketing Supervisor at Donnelly-Boland and Associates. He teaches Honors Composition at Point Park and does not believe that it is possible for his students to pass the class without the textbook that he requires in the syllabus.

“I make sure the textbook is used on a weekly basis, and that there are assignments that directly link back to the text,” Fazio said.

However, Fazio believes there are other teaching methods that are worthwhile as well.

“I like the idea of using interactive methods where each week, there are different types of readings,” Fazio said. “By using different types of readings, you allow students who have different skill set to possibly flourish in different ways.”

Strickland and Brady both agree.

“I feel that when professors ask us to read a chapter or two during the week and then present the content in a more in depth manner and add their experiences and knowledge alongside the information being presented to us, that that is a much more beneficial and educational experience,” Strickland said.

Professors and students agree that textbooks are not always the way to go. Students like Brady and Strickland are hopeful, but Fazio doesn’t think so.

“While textbooks might come in the form of eBooks in the near future, there are some classes that textbooks will always be a part of,” Fazio said.

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