Highlights from Faculty Watch Attitudes & Behaviors toward
Course Materials 2016-17 Report


Most faculty assign a required textbook/course material



Some faculty don’t require a textbook

While the majority of faculty required at least one course material, 24% indicated that they did not require course materials for at least one of their courses. Sixty-two percent cited that students could get by with other materials and 25% felt the materials were not worth the expense.


Majority choose the materials assigned, but some do not

Eighty percent of faculty indicated they select the course materials they assign, and 29% report using a standard set of required course materials that were selected by a campus or departmental committee/designee or at the district, system, or state level.

Quality is the most important factor when choosing course materials; cost a close second

Overall content quality and cost are considered important by an almost equal percentage of instructors when selecting course materials. However, 52% of faculty selected content quality as the most influential factor compared to only 12% who selected cost.

Many do not understand their role in textbook affordability and don’t view it as a priority.

While in most instances, faculty are selecting the materials students are asked to buy, 55% of faculty report being unsure about the role they play in textbook affordability and more than 40% of faculty do not view textbook affordability as a priority for their institution, themselves or the campus store.

Faculty are slow to shift to digital: majority prefer print

When asked about their format preferences, 50% of faculty say they prefer a print textbook while 20% prefer using print with additional digital components. Only 7% of faculty stated they prefer using a digital format while teaching.


Faculty mainly unfamiliar with open educational resources

Despite the buzz surrounding open educational resources (OER), many faculty still lack knowledge about these materials. Overall, 48% of instructors are not aware of or have only heard about OER, while 34% are aware of OER and how they can be used.




About the Study

Faculty Watch is an in-depth study of faculty attitudes and behaviors toward course materials. The study was conducted online in the spring term. It is designed to proportionately match the most recent figures of U.S. higher education published in The Chronicle of Higher Education: 2015/2016 Almanac. Twenty-nine institutions were selected to participate based on the following factors: public vs. private schools, two-year vs. four-year degree programs, enrollment size, and geographic location. Participating campuses included:

  • 29 institutions
  • 16 U.S. states and 1 Canadian province
  • 24 four-year campuses and 5 two-year campuses
  • 23 public institutions and 6 private institutions
  • 12 institutions had less than 5,000 students enrolled, 7 institutions had 5,000 to 9,999 students enrolled, 4 institutions had 10,000 to 20,000 students enrolled, 6 institutions had more than 20,000 students enrolled

Campus stores distributed the survey to their faculty by email. The survey fielded for a two- or three-week period in March/April 2017 and yielded a total of 1,946 responses. The margin of error for this study is <2.5% at the 95% confidence level.