Performance and retention – the value of textbooks

Textbooks can play an important role in student retention, according to Oxford University Press author James Arvanitakis.

In an article in The Conversation, James wrote about a new program at Western Sydney University in which first year students receive free access to digital textbooks. The pilot program was introduced at the start of 2017, following similar strategies in the US and the UK.

James wrote that he believed textbooks were an important pedagogical tool that could help keep students engaged.

“Success at university is a combination of pedagogical and social factors, which include support networks and university transition strategies. Student performance and retention is enhanced by access to high-quality resources that they can afford.

“Textbooks are a powerful pedagogical tool that can improve engagement. In my own teaching experience, a well-written and relevant textbook allows students to better understand the broader subject narrative,” he wrote.

“That is, it is not about learning individual topics such as gender, class, race and technology. Rather, it allows the student to see the story of arc of the complex and intersectional factors that shape our societies.”

In his own experience, James has seen the benefits of high quality texts on student performance and retention, citing a drop-out rate of 22% falling to less than 2% as a result of the introduction of a textbook, with feedback indicating repeatedly pointing to the value of the new textbook.

James edited OUP title Sociologic – Analysing Everyday Life and Culture. He is a strong supporter of the ‘inclusive access’ model of textbook purchase.



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