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Students Forgoing Required Learning Materials Due to Cost

22 September 2017

From No Shelf Required:

A growing number of college students are choosing not to purchase textbooks and other required course materials in an effort to save money, according to a new study conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of VitalSource Technologies LLC.

The study finds 85 percent of the college and university students surveyed have either waited to buy course materials until after the first day of class or opted not to purchase the materials altogether – up five percent from a similar survey conducted in 2016. Nearly all (91 percent) of the students surveyed cite cost as the reason for not buying their books, and half admit their grades suffered as a result.

. . . .

“As costs have risen, we have seen course material cost become a significant barrier to student retention and completion. Students are increasingly finding work-arounds that are not working – like putting off buying materials or choosing not to buy course materials at all.”

. . . .

“With college costs on the rise and student outcomes lagging, offering more affordable options on critical course materials is just common sense,” said Pep Carrera, Chief Operating Officer of VitalSource®, a leading provider of digital learning materials. “In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the number of students who are forgoing course materials due to costs. This is alarming, but even more disturbing is the consequence this decision has on students’ grades.”

The study also confirms students’ interest in “inclusive access” programs as a solution to their textbooks and course material cost woes. Inclusive access rolls the cost of digital course materials into tuition, making it easier for students to automatically access critical learning materials at a more affordable price.

“The prevalence – and success – of digital inclusive access programs has increased significantly in recent years,” said Carrera. “The survey results mirror the anecdotal data we have collected from students about the value of digital course materials delivered through an inclusive access model.

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Ebooks in Education, Non-Fiction

3 Comments to “Students Forgoing Required Learning Materials Due to Cost”

  1. See? They (and/or their parents) can be taught not to overpay for books.

    A long ways to go yet, but a step in the right direction.

  2. There’s no indication that the study actually checked to see if reading rates were higher in courses where the materials were free or inexpensive. So I’ll take the excuse of expense with a grain of salt.

    Yesterday, I taught a college class in which students had been assigned a collection of free, on-line readings on the subject of “X”. Not one of 30 students could answer the question “What is an X?” That pretty much killed any discussion I had planned for that hour. These were juniors & seniors taking a class in their major subject area.

    I agree that many college textbooks are appallingly expensive. But the percentage of students who do the assigned readings has always been disappointingly low.

    • My two daughters in college (they’re roommates) are taking the same English course and the class assignment was to go to a local movie theater and watch a free film that was relevant to the course. Need I say that they were the only students from their class to attend.

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