Textbook pedagogy helps students review and retain subject matter

Sullivan Precalculus 11eMy field, mathematics, is a discipline in which the complexity of the subject increases with each course and each course requires a certain amount of recall from prior courses. While some students do quite well in transitioning to the next mathematical challenge, there are many who don’t bridge easily to the new content. Furthermore, students are prone to forget material learned earlier in the current course that they now need.

As a professor of mathematics, having taught for over 35 years, I am well acquainted with the reluctance of students to review material when their recall of it is imperfect. When I faced up to this issue a while back in revising my four-book Precalculus series, now in the 11th edition, I decided to confront the problem head-on. [Read more…]

Textbook pedagogy: Improving chapter summaries encourages collaborative learning

Saladin Textbook CoversIn my field, human anatomy and physiology (A&P), like many others, it is customary to end each textbook chapter with a concept review and self-testing exercises. For the first five editions of my Anatomy & Physiology—The Unity of Form and Function, I titled my end-of-chapter feature “Chapter Review” and its first section, “Review of Key Concepts.” I followed the traditional practice of summarizing the chapter in short declarative sentences like these:

  • Microvilli are short surface extensions of the plasma membrane that increase a cell’s surface area. They are especially well developed on absorptive cells, as in the kidney and small intestine. On some cells, they play a sensory role.
  • Parathyroid hormone is secreted by the parathyroid glands in response to hypocalcemia. It raises blood Ca2+ levels by indirectly stimulating osteoclasts, inhibiting osteoblasts, promoting calcitriol synthesis, and promoting Ca2+ conservation by the kidneys.

[Read more…]

10 Classic and contemporary textbook features you may not be thinking about…but should

highlighted textbookDuring his 2019 TAA Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “Textbook Features You May Not Be Thinking About… But Should!”, veteran textbook author Kevin Patton shared details about both classic – not “old” – and contemporary textbook features for consideration when designing a learning experience for your readers.

Starting with an exploration of the textbook as part of a learning experience for the student, Patton advised looking at the pain points, how they can be addressed, and what already works in the classroom. From there, it’s a matter of finding the right design elements to deliver the content in a meaningful way for the students using your book. Below are ten features for consideration. [Read more…]

Can I help you in any way? Learning objectives

Can I help you in any way? Learning objectives“Hello, thank you for visiting. Can I help you in any way?” If you’ve browsed our TAA website, you’ve likely seen those words in the chat box that appears on the screen. We’re often asked by visitors if we’re “real” (as opposed to an automated bot). Then those who realize that we are, and that we are there to help, ask questions that you may have as well.

In this series of “Can I help you in any way?” posts, we’ll highlight some of the questions people have asked through the TAA Live Chat feature of our site and the responses we have for those questions.

In this post, we’re focused on a question about the importance of learning objectives when writing a textbook. [Read more…]

The stuff our books are made of – Part 1

dictionaryThere is terminological chaos in the education culture. Yes, this is about the words we use as authors. More specifically, it is about the language of instruction, not about cellulose and silicone.

As Aristotle put it,

“For as long as it is not clear in how many senses a term is used, it is possible that the answerer and the questioner are not directing their minds upon the same thing,… [and, therefore] It often happens that a difficulty is found in discussing or arguing a given position because the definition has not been correctly rendered.”

The stuff our books are made of is extremely important because classroom teachers rely instructionally on textbooks for engaging subject matter. [Read more…]

Why textbook authors should be using critical instruction pedagogy

puzzle piecesYou are seated at a table covered with a thousand scrambled puzzle pieces. Your task is to assemble the pieces. But there is a catch. You are not shown a picture of the assembled puzzle. You are not given any instructions that might help you to assemble the pieces into a critically understandable coherent whole. How would you proceed? [Read more…]

Pedagogy of the book and chapter questions

teachDoes the organization of the textbook relate to pedagogical approaches used to teach with it? I considered this question in relation to chapter organization in a previous post. In this post I will explore another part of the typical textbook chapter: questions.

Flip to the end of a textbook chapter, and you will usually find a list of questions, exercises, or other suggested assignments. Sometimes you will find additional learning activity ideas and resources on the companion website. Do they serve a purpose, or do readers flip past to get to the next assigned reading? [Read more…]

Pedagogy of book and chapter organization

knowledge typesDoes the organization of the textbook relate to pedagogical approaches used to teach with it? What pedagogical perspectives are represented by the organizational style we choose for a book and its chapters? These questions percolated through my work on a recently completed book manuscript. When thinking about the organization of the book, I reflected on ways people read books today and how they use them to learn. [Read more…]

Cutting edge: Using QR codes in a textbook: An interview with Al Trujillo

Al Trujillo Photo for featured member

Al Trujillo during an oceanographic expedition in Antarctica.

Al Trujillo is a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Earth Sciences at Palomar College in San Marcos, California. He has worked with his co-author, Hal Thurman, on Essentials of Oceanography (Trujillo and Thurman, Pearson Education) since the 6th edition, and they have also co-authored Introductory Oceanography, which is now in its 10th edition.

Here Trujillo discusses the value and functionality of embedding QR code technology into textbooks: [Read more…]