2019 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 3): Pedagogy and marketing involvement
A few weeks ago, we reached out to winners of the 2019 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. We had so many great responses I decided to create a five-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got started. The second installment focused on what they do to boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use.
This third installment in the five-part series focuses on which pedagogical elements in their textbook they are most proud of, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book.
Q: Which pedagogical elements in your textbook are you most proud of?
Maxine P. Atkinson, co-author of the 2019 Most Promising New Textbook Award winner, Sociology in Action, 1e: “The included active learning activities.”
Frank M. Carrano, co-author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Data Structures and Abstractions with Java, 5e: “Design Decisions. I mentioned this element in my other book that won the McGuffey award, but the element appeared first in this book. When describing a solution to an example problem, a Design Decision discusses possible approaches and justifies the one used in the solution. Often, the discussion reflects the actual one that my co-author and I have when we write the solution!”
Ralph G. Carter, co-author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, IR: International, Economic, and Human Security in a Changing World, 3e: “the writing style; “Revenge of Geography” boxes”
Dave Dillon, author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Blueprint for Success in College and Career, 1e: “OER. Multimedia.”
Nicole M. Gage, co-author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Fundamentals of Cognitive Neuroscience: A Beginner’s Guide, 2e: “I am very proud of our approach to bring brain science directly to the reader. Each chapter has sections that are meant to explain the relevance of neuroscientific theory to one’s everyday life.”
Mary Ellen Guffey, co-author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Essentials of Business Communication, 11e: “I am most proud of producing “doable” writing problems for students. Too often, textbook authors do not produce writing situations that are within the grasp of students. I also make myself write a solution for nearly every assigned writing problem. If I can’t write a solution, then neither can the student.”
Massimo Guiggiani, author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, The Science of Vehicle Dynamics: Handling, Braking, and Ride of Road and Race Cars, 2e: “Having given nothing for granted.”
Thomas Heinzen and Wind Goodfriend, co-authors of the 2019 Most Promising New Textbook Award winner, Social Psychology, 1e: “Wind specializes in popular culture and those applications have proven to be both engaging and instructive.”
John Hennessy, co-author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, 6e: “We have lots of examples, since the discipline is a problem solving one.”
Timothy Henry, co-author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Data Structures and Abstractions with Java, 5e: “Short sections (chunked data) and minimal dependencies between chunks”
Milan Jirásek, co-author of the 2019 Most Promising New Textbook Award winner, Creep and Hygrothermal Effects in Concrete Structures, 1e: “I think that many examples that I worked out in detail are illustrative. My objective was to provide a detailed description of algorithms that were used and specify all input parameters, so that the results can serve as benchmarks for readers who start implementing their own procedures.”
Dana Loewy, co-author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Essentials of Business Communication, 11e: “Teaching the process of writing strategically in any genre of business document — in our advanced book — and the writing plans / strategies in our Essentials text.”
Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, author of the 2019 McGuffey Longevity Award winner, Customer Service Skills for Success, 7e: “As a trainer and adult educator, I try to build a variety of interactive components into my textbook (e.g. quick reviews following each main topic segment, fast facts, activities related to content that get users to stop and reflect on what they read, and a variety of visual elements that reinforce primary content). I also use interviews, comments, quotes, and suggestions from people who are active in the customer service profession that relate to content I have provided. This reinforces real-world applicability and helps show added value to students and instructors/professors. At the end of the chapter, I provide a variety of resources that can be accessed online or from other sources to supplement text content.”
Matt Metzger, co-author of the 2019 Most Promising New Textbook Award winner, Attainable Region Theory: An Introduction to Choosing an Optimal Reactor, 1e: “Teaching chapter along with companion worked exercises.”
David Patterson, co-author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, 6e: “Critical formulas on the inside cover, like a physics textbook. It set the tone for book. We also have interesting quotes at the opening and closing of every chapter.”
Andrew Pennock, author of the 2019 Textbook Excellence Award winner, The CQ Press Guide to Writing in Public Policy, 1e: “Each chapter of the book features writing from different real world policy challenges. This was difficult to do but I’m hopeful it will engage students by helping them see how policy writing will help them create change in policy areas they care about.
I’m also proud of the humor and wit that I brought to the writing. When I read the final proofs I kept thinking, “this is really good!” Textbooks need to be engaging. Since public policy largely deals with weighty, unsolved problems, it was important to me to make students smile when I could. Everyone needs to laugh a little, even when encountering difficult topics.”
Robert L. Zimdahl, author of the 2019 McGuffey Longevity Award winner, Fundamentals of Weed Science, 5e: “The breadth of coverage, chapters on the definitions and uses of weeds, coverage of herbicide resistance, genetic modification, and some aspects of the morality of the science”
Q: What involvement have you had in marketing your textbook?
Atkinson: “I travel with the sales force when invited.”
Carrano: “Some. We talk with the Marketing department to ensure that their description of our books is correct.”
Carter: “met with potential adopters, briefed publisher’s marketing representatives”
Dillon: “Mostly word of mouth. Some OER listservs and blogs. TAA. Large involvement.”
Gage: “Most of the marketing has been done by the Elsevier team. They are a large publishing house. I have reached out to colleagues so that they are aware of the new work but to be honest I have not done much direct marketing — I’ve left that to the professionals.”
Guffey: “At first, I wrote supplementary exercises and offered them to teachers on my own. I also created a newsletter with an order blank for instructors to request specific supplementary exercises from me directly. I hired a neighbor to help me respond personally to every request and to mail the supplementary exercises. I also conducted workshops to present teaching ideas, thus establishing a reputation within the field.”
Guiggiani: “Quite a bit, mainly with Internet tools (LinkedIn, etc.).”
Heinzen and Goodfriend: “We both had attended many conferences, so we were well-networked in different regions of the country.”
Hennessy: “Some, but not much is required, since our reputations are well known.”
Henry: “Minimal, I wish there was more. I put together a list book features for marketing.”
Jirásek: “I have given complimentary copies to colleagues in the field and I posted information on the book on ResearchGate and similar servers. I also asked for a correction of the record in Scopus several months ago, but unfortunately the Scopus team has not corrected anything so far.”
Loewy: “Some. We have presented webinars for our users but also for our publisher’s salesforce. We sent out announcements when a new edition was published, coupled with a survey of our users. We use our blog and other social media to grow the awareness of our brand and provide invaluable teaching assistance. We are creating goodwill by attending and becoming involved in our professional organizations.”
Lucas: “I speak to various groups and write a customer service blog which is referenced in the textbook. That drives users to the website where they can access additional content or reference material. This provides an easy way to add updated content before the next edition is scheduled for publication.
I also volunteer to go to academic events organized by the publisher and present to current and potential adopters of the text.
Before each revision, I work with the publishing, editorial, technical, and marketing team to brainstorm ideas on potential ways to better market the book.”
Patterson: “A few book signings.”
Read the first installment in this series: Textbook award-winning insight (Part 1): Deciding to write and getting the interest of a publisher
Read the second installment in this series: Textbook award-winning insight (Part 2): Boosting writing confidence, scheduling writing time, software
Read the fourth installment in this series: Textbook award-winning insight (Part 4): What they wish they had known before they started, writing advice
Read the fifth installment in this series: Textbook award-winning insight (Part 5): Key to textbook longevity, preparing for the next edition