Best Practices for Course Material Selection and Usage
academic freedom to select textbooks and course materials that the
faculty enjoys is accompanied by the responsibility to choose materials
that support a student’s learning process by being both course
appropriate and affordable. The following are best practices designed to
maximize the usage of adopted textbooks and course materials and to
support the intent of Maryland College Textbook and Affordability Act of
2009 as well as USM Policy.
Course Material Selection Process:
- Consider the price of the course materials as one of the criteria during the textbook selection process.
it clear to publisher sales representatives that price is an important
factor in the decision-making process. Course materials that deliver
high quality at a reasonable cost to students should be selected
whenever possible. Price and cost information may be requested from the
publisher or University Store though both are subject to change.
- Obtain accurate bibliographic information for all course materials.
This information includes title, author, edition, publisher and most importantly the ISBN (International Standard Book Number), which is the unique identifier of each publication.
- Use bundling of course materials only when it provides a cost benefit for students.
“Bundle” is defined as one or more college textbooks or other
supplemental material packaged together to be sold as course materials
for one price. Bundle only essential material that will actually be used
in the course. If one-time-use materials are included in the bundle,
consider the impact this may have on the students’ ability to resell the
other materials back to the University Store or to other students.
Publishers will assign a unique ISBN to a bundle to identify it as a
publication different from the single textbook for inventory purposes.
- Consider using the same edition of a textbook as long as possible.
frequent change of textbook editions increases the costs of course
materials for students, both in terms of the purchase of new textbooks
and the decreased value of used books that are sold back to the
- When practical, allow multiple editions of a title to be used for a course.
the University Store so that used books are available and those
editions can be bought back at the Used Book Buyback for a higher price.
- Consider a custom course packet for essential material.
portion of a larger work is essential to the course, consider placing
that portion on reserve in the library or making it available online or
as a custom course packet . All such material must be offered in
compliance with copyright regulations. The University Store provides a
custom course packet service as a means of making essential information
available in a more affordable format.
- Consider Department-wide adoptions of the same title for all sections of the same course.
the same book for all sections of the same course maximizes the
students’ opportunity to receive higher prices for their used books thus
defraying the high cost of textbooks.
- Review these Best Practices when selecting course materials for the next semester.
Chairpersons are encouraged to remind instructors of the Best Practices
for selecting course materials especially the importance of the timely
submission of book orders to the University Store.
Course Material Ordering:
- Submit all orders for textbooks and course materials
to the University Store using the online order process. The University
Store maintains the database and publishes the online listing of all
course material information for the university in compliance with the
College Textbook Competition and Affordability Act of 2009.
law, a complete and accurate list of all required and recommended
course materials must be made available online on the University Store’s
as a result of the textbook order process. Therefore, faculty who use
course materials must submit an order to the University Store so that
the title information is included in the online listing.
also expect the University Store to have all course materials available
for purchase. This is especially important for those students who are
purchasing their course materials with financial aid and the campus
debit OneCard, which are not accepted forms of payment for other stores
and online sites.
- Submit orders (adoptions) for course materials by published deadlines.
deadlines are established to give adequate time to assess the
availability of course materials, especially used books, and to compile
the title list for the Used Book Buyback. When the University Store has
book orders for specific titles, students are paid a higher price for
used copies of those titles to meet the store’s inventory needs. Course
material information is also needed by specific deadlines to comply with
the USM Policy that requires the University Store to publish Fall
Semester course material information online by the preceding May 1 and
Spring Semester course material information by the preceding December 1.
- Order and recommend only the course materials that will be used in the course.
Indicate to the University Store and to students that a text is required only
if it will actually be used in the course. Otherwise indicate that the
text is recommended. The University Store usually orders fewer copies of
recommended course materials because fewer students purchase books that
are not required.
- When selecting a different title than previously
used including changing the edition of a textbook, the faculty must
acknowledge by law that they have considered several factors including
the cost of the books, substantial content changes between editions of
the same book and that supplemental material in bundles is intended for
use in the course.
will make these acknowledgements as a step in the process of submitting
an online order for textbooks and course materials to the University
Store, which has been determined to be
the most convenient method of recording this information. However, any
questions or concerns regarding faculty compliance with the
acknowledgement process will not be administered by the University
Store, but will be referred to the Provost’s Office for review.
Changes to Course Material Selections:
- Instructors are asked to refrain from changing
course material selections that are submitted to the University Store
except under certain circumstances.
accurate course material information for a semester is listed online by
the University Store, the course material selections may only be
changed if a sufficient supply of a title is unavailable, the instructor
is reassigned by the academic department, or the course is cancelled.
Requests for changes under any other circumstances must be authorized by
the Department Chairperson. This practice protects customers and the
University Store from loss should they have already purchased and
received the book based upon the instructor’s original book order.
- Instructors are asked to refrain from changing the
required/recommended status of course material selections that are
submitted to the University Store.
University Store informs customers about the required or recommended
status of each title both in its online title listing and on shelf tags
in the store. This designation is based upon the instructor’s book
order. Situations in which faculty list a title as required on the book
order, but do not use it as a required course material increase the
overall cost of textbooks for students and cause misunderstandings among
customers, faculty and the University Store with regard to refunds for
Course Material Usage:
- Communicate with students regarding course materials usage and cost.
relate the value of a textbook to the retail price of the required book
and the extent to which the instructor uses a book for assignments and
exams that are based on the book. Explain to students why specific
course materials are chosen and how the text fits within the course.
- Obtain feedback from students at the end of the course concerning course materials.
the effectiveness of course materials with an end-of-semester course
evaluation and use this information in future course material selection
Date: November 3, 2009
Revised: November 6, 2009