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Should you teach from your own textbook?

Should you teach from your own textbook?In a recent discussion in the Textbook Writing & Publishing Discussion Circle in TAA’s online member community regarding whether professors should teach from their own textbook, all agreed that it was perfectly acceptable, but whether or not to collect royalties on those sales was met with mixed reactions.

According to textbook author Kevin Patton, textbook royalties are no different than being paid for lecturing:

I believe that it’s perfectly ethical for authors to get royalties or other compensation for their textbooks used by their own students. Besides it being a time-honored tradition in academia, textbook writing takes a lot of time and effort outside of one’s contracted teaching duties that should rightfully be compensated. Taking a royalty check for teaching via a textbook is no different than taking a salary check for lecturing in a classroom.”

However, several authors (including Patton) favored donating royalties made from sales on their own campus in a way that benefit the students (such as donating to either the University Foundation or to their department).

“I think it’s fine to use one’s own textbook, but in my case I donate the royalties I receive from doing so to my department’s student gift account to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. I mention this arrangement to the students on the first day of class, as I do not want them to have any thoughts that I am using the book to make some money, “ said textbook author Steven Barkan.

Textbook author Frederic Martini agreed: “It would be counterproductive to go through the drama and angst of writing a text for your course and then not using it; something that gives you new ideas for improvement and let’s you see where you went wrong. The one thing you should NOT do is take royalties for those sales as it presents a clear conflict of interest and could raise eyebrows in the administration (and your colleagues).”

Other points were also raised, such as staying open to accepting feedback from students about the textbook and any errors they may happen to find, and also being careful not to lecture directly from the book.

What advantages and disadvantages do you see in using your own textbook in the classroom? You can join in on this discussion and read additional responses by logging into the TAA online member community (instructions below), or by leaving your opinion in the comments below.

How to join the Textbook Writing & Publishing circle and respond to this discussion:

  • Login to the TAA website with your member username and password.
  • Once logged in, click the “Community” link under “Welcome !” in the member login area.
  • Once on the Community page, click on “Textbook Writing & Publishing” under “Latest Circles”.
  • Click “Join”.
  • Click “What do you think: Should one use their own textbook in teaching?” under “Discussions” to post a response.

Not a TAA member? Leave your opinion in the comments section below. Learn more about the benefits TAA offers and how to gain exclusive access to the online member community by clicking here.