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NACS Releases Annual "Faculty Watch" Survey on College Course Materials

The number one challenge keeping college faculty from playing a larger role in lowering the cost of course materials and participating in affordability initiatives is not knowing where to start or what to do, according to a new survey conducted by the National Association of College Stores.

Faculty Watch: Attitudes & Behaviors Toward Course Materials, 2018-2019 is based on responses from 1,513 faculty at 21 higher education institutions. The study was conducted by OnCampus® Research, the research arm of the National Association of College Stores. The report gives insights into faculty opinions on course materials, including selection considerations, format preferences, affordability, and more. Other key findings of the report include:

  • Hurdles to Affordability. While a growing number of post-secondary institutions are implementing campus affordability initiatives to reduce the cost of course materials, 35% of faculty still reported that they do not know where to start or what to do.
  • Faculty Select Course Materials. Eighty-two percent of faculty members select materials for at least one of their courses. Faculty assign roughly 1.4 required materials per course. One out of every five courses required no purchasing of materials at all. 
  • Faculty Use of Open Education Resources (OER) Remains Unchanged, while the use of free content increases. One-third of faculty members reported that they used OER in the past 12 months – the same percentage reported in the Faculty Watch 2017-2018 report. Seventy-four percent of faculty say they have some awareness of OER, though many (21%) report they have only heard the term and don't know much about it. 
  • Faculty Preference for Digital Course Materials is Slowly Increasing, But Still Low. For the 2018-2019 academic year, only 16% of faculty preferred a digital e-book or digital book with additional digital components such as adaptive learning and quizzes. Nearly half of all faculty members – 49% – prefer print materials, a decrease of 11 percentage points from the previous year. 
  • An Increasing Number of Faculty Prefer Print + Digital. An increasing number of faculty members prefer print textbooks with added digital components. This year, 39% of those who preferred some type of print, preferred a print textbook with added digital, interactive elements, and quizzes. Compare that to the 23% who preferred print with digital elements just two years ago.