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Assessments of Textbook Usage and the Relationship to Student Course Performance

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The authors conducted two studies regarding student textbook preferences; the first developed an original measurement tool (the Collegiate Student Assessment of Textbooks [CSAT]), including an examination of the relationship between student textbook preferences with learning- and grade-oriented attitudes. The second study was a large-scale national study administering the CSAT and the Textbook Assessment and Usage Scale (TAUS; Gurung and Martin 2011) to introductory psychology students; a portion of the study includes actual student course performance data. CSAT and TAUS subscale comparisons indicate (a) converging validity, (b) significant relationships to percentage of textbook read, and (c) relationships between GPA and expected course grades. An indirect link appears between the effect of pedagogical aids, percentage of textbook read, and actual course outcomes. The authors discuss a possible moderating variable and the potential benefits from continued study of textbook pedagogical aids and student performance.
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COLLEGE TEACHING, 60: 17–24, 2012
Copyright C
Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 8756-7555 print / 1930-8299 online
DOI: 10.1080/87567555.2011.609573
Assessments of Textbook Usage and the Relationship
to Student Course Performance
R. Eric Landrum
Boise State University
Regan A. R. Gurung
University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
Nathan Spann
Boise State University
The authors conducted two studies regarding student textbook preferences; the first developed
an original measurement tool (the Collegiate Student Assessment of Textbooks [CSAT]), in-
cluding an examination of the relationship between student textbook preferences with learning-
and grade-oriented attitudes. The second study was a large-scale national study administering
the CSAT and the Textbook Assessment and Usage Scale (TAUS; Gurung and Martin 2011)
to introductory psychology students; a portion of the study includes actual student course
performance data. CSAT and TAUS subscale comparisons indicate (a) converging validity, (b)
significant relationships to percentage of textbook read, and (c) relationships between GPA
and expected course grades. An indirect link appears between the effect of pedagogical aids,
percentage of textbook read, and actual course outcomes. The authors discuss a possible mod-
erating variable and the potential benefits from continued study of textbook pedagogical aids
and student performance.
Keywords: course performance, measures of textbook preferences, pedagogical aids, reading
Although numerous learning tools are available in higher
education, textbooks continue to be a dominant influence for
students and faculty. For the estimated 19.6 million students
enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States
in 2009 (Snyder and Dillow 2010), about 90% of college
courses rely on one or more textbooks as a complementary
form of instruction (Advisory Committee on Student Finan-
cial Assistance 2007). Just considering expenditures in the
United States, $160 to $200 million is spent for psychology
textbooks—the introductory psychology course alone enrolls
1.2 to 1.6 million students annually (Steuer and Ham 2008).
Given the magnitude of this investment (in terms of both stu-
dents and dollars), it is important to understand how students
utilize textbooks to determine if these expenditures are wise
investments in student learning. Which design features (i.e.,
Correspondence should be sent to R. Eric Landrum, Boise State Univer-
sity, Department of Psychology, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID 83725-
1715, USA. E-mail: elandru@boisestate.edu
pedagogical aids) enhance a student’s perception of the text-
book and relate positively to students reading the textbook?
How do student textbook perceptions and usage affect actual
course performance?
One method of studying the impact of pedagogical fea-
tures in textbooks is to conduct objective analyses. For
example, this might include the comparison of the num-
bers of pages, pictures, currency, and number of references
across textbooks, as well as specific pedagogical aids such
as boldfacing, key terms, and chapter summaries. As catego-
rized here, these types of studies compare countable features
(Chapman and Goetz 1985; Griggs et al. 1999; Griggs, Jack-
son, and Napolitano 1994; Griggs and Koenig 2001; Griggs
and Marek 2001), and do not include an evaluation of the
pedagogical features by instructors or students.
A second approach involves studying textbook effective-
ness and pedagogy via faculty surveys. Altman, Ericksen, and
Pena-Shaff (2006), Landrum and Hormel (2002), and Weiten
(1988) are all examples of studies that surveyed faculty
18 LANDRUM ET AL.
members about their perceptions of effective pedagogical
aids in textbooks. Faculty may not be the best judges of
effective pedagogical aids because most faculty were out-
standing students, and not all students we teach are equally
outstanding. One method of countering this potential mis-
match between faculty members compared with typical stu-
dents is for students and faculty to work together on textbook
selection (e.g., Altman, Ericksen, and Pena-Shaff 2006).
A third approach includes direct student involvement in
the pedagogical research about textbook effectiveness. The
types of student research studies fall into two categories:
those that measure student preferences and self-reported
use, and those that connect student preferences and self-
reported use to course grades. Examples of the former cate-
gory include Weiten, Guadagno, and Beck (1996) and Marek,
Griggs, and Christopher (1999). Weiten, Guadagno, and
Beck (1996) found that students indicated the highest pref-
erences for boldfaced terms, chapter summaries, and glos-
saries. Marek, Griggs, and Christopher (1999) reported that
student ratings of helpfulness did not necessarily correspond
with student ratings of usage. Few researchers systematically
measure student opinions about textbooks and pedagogical
aids and compare these attitudes to student performance in
the introductory psychology course.
In his research concerning pedagogical aids and student
exam performance, Gurung (2003) reported that neither the
actual use nor the perceived usefulness of pedagogical aids
related to exam performance. In a replication and extension,
Gurung (2004) surveyed students about their use of pedagog-
ical aids, studied exam performance both early and late in the
semester, and found no positive relationship between peda-
gogical aid use and exam performance. Durwin and Sherman
(2008) compared two textbooks with students also complet-
ing reading comprehension tests, and found no significant
comprehension score differences when examining two dif-
ferent textbooks. Although textbook use in higher education
is pervasive, the lack of a demonstrable benefit to textbook
use is surprising. It could be that most textbooks within a
genre are not particularly different from one another. It could
be that the measures of textbook use and value of pedagogical
aids are not robust. It could also be that there are extraneous
variables at work that are not part of present research. These
potential alternative explanations lead to the present studies.
Even though there is some research in the area of textbook
use and satisfaction (e.g., Textbook Assessment and Usage
Scale [TAUS]; Gurung and Martin, 2011), to our knowledge
there is no reliable instrument available to measure the multi-
ple dimensions of purchasing, using, and liking a textbook. It
may be that students who purchase the textbook and like the
textbook are more likely to use the textbook and learn from
it; these are empirical questions to be answered. For Study
1, we designed an instrument that would allow researchers
to address student perceptions about purchasing, using, and
liking the textbook. The measure developed here (see table 1)
is the Collegiate Student Assessment of Textbooks (CSAT)
scale. Study 1 describes the development and initial testing
of the CSAT. We examine how the scale scores relate to the
students’ learning orientation and grade orientation, as mea-
sured by the LOGO II (Eison 1981; Eison, Pollio, and Milton
1986). Given that students possess different motivations for
college, such as to learn for its own sake or the love of learn-
ing (learning orientation), or pursue college for the sake or
a grade or credential (grade orientation), student’s attitudes
and interactions with a textbook might differ depending on
these orientations.
In Study 2, we administered the CSAT and TAUS to a large
national sample of students, and for a subset of that sample we
compared students’ CSAT and TAUS scores to their course
performance. The large sample allowed for meaningful com-
parisons of CSAT and TAUS subscale and composite scores,
as well as the ability to directly compare scale scores with
course performance.
STUDY 1
METHOD
Participants
Two hundred undergraduate general psychology students
participated in this study to complete a research exposure
requirement. The sample comprised 90 men (45.9%) and
106 women (54.1%); 4 participants did not report sex. The
average age of the participants was 20.17 years (SD =4.0
years).
Materials
The CSAT is an original instrument that we developed. The
items are presented in table 1. The survey measures student
perceptions of textbooks, with a focus on student opinions
about why they purchase a textbook, what students like about
textbooks, and what students report as motivations for using
their textbooks. The original pool of items consisted of 110
questions measuring the three dimensions (purchase, like,
and use), demographic questions, and one open-ended ques-
tion, “List the top three reasons why you keep a textbook after
you purchase it; if you do not keep a textbook, list the top
three reasons why you do not.” The qualitative data collected
from the open-ended item are not presented here.
In addition, we measured learning orientation and grade
orientation with the LOGO II (Eison 1981; Eison, Pollio,
and Milton 1986). This instrument asks students about their
own attitudes and behaviors on learning and grades, and
provides subscale scores indicating the relative importance
of these dimensions to students. Alexitch (1997) reported the
Cronbach’s alpha interitem reliability as .77 for the learning
orientation scales and .81 for the grade orientation scales.
STUDENTS AND TEXTBOOKS 19
TABLE 1
CSAT Subscale Items, With Factor Loadings
Items (Purchase) “I purchase a textbook for a class... Learning and Understanding Class Requirement Cost
because I need to take the time to read the material in order to fully understand it. .78
so that I can read ahead and be better prepared for each class session. .72
because reading the textbook makes the lectures more understandable. .69
because you cannot learn as much from a lecture. .60
because you can learn a lot from textbook. .57
because I learn best by reading. .57
when I want to learn as much as possible about the topic. .56
for every class when it is required. .79
for every class when it is required because I believe I will be better prepared. .74
when it is required, no matter what. .71
for every class when it is required because I will understand the material better using
the textbook.
.70
only if the bookstore will buy back the book at the end of the semester. .79
when the cost of the book is less than $50 (for each book). .76
only when the price is less than the suggested retail price. .71
only when I can get a used copy. .70
Items (Like) “I like a textbook when... Practical Application and
Convenience
Accessibility Graphs and
Tables
I can apply the concepts to my daily life. .74
core ideas are presented. .72
key terms are listed at the end of the chapter. .70
ideas are presented on a simple level. .68
glossary terms are presented at the end of a chapter. .67
glossary terms are presented at the back of the book. .64
concrete examples are used to help me understand and remember. .60
the material is relevant to the career I am pursuing. .60
the material is interesting and I want to learn about it. .59
the examples used in the book are relevant to my current life situation. .58
the examples used in the book really match the definitions provided. .56
glossary terms are presented throughout the chapter. .55
there is an electronic study guide available. .80
I can access the book online as well as a print copy. .79
there is an integrated web site that goes along with the textbook. .69
I can access my book in PDF on the internet. .62
there are lots of graphs in the text. .87
there are lots of tables in the text. .85
Items (Use) “I am more likely to use a textbook when... Study Aids Instructor Use Ease of use
reviews are included that involve matching terms with definitions. .77
multiple choice review questions are included throughout the chapters. .75
discussion questions are included. .72
reviews are included that involve fill in the blank answers. .71
multiple choice items are used as study aids. .71
online study aids are provided. .59
each section concludes with a summary of the basic points. .58
the concepts are simplistic. .52
quizzes are given over the book content. .81
homework is assigned from the book. .79
an instructor gives pop quizzes. .77
an instructor calls on students in class with questions from the book material. .77
in-class activities involve concepts in the book. .73
the instructor refers back to the book often. .67
end of chapter summaries are included. .69
I understand the vocabulary used. .66
key points are summarized in a bullet format. .61
difficult words are defined. .60
tough concepts are summarized with figures/tables. .58
it takes little effort to learn quickly from the book. .55
the concepts are simplistic. .54
20 LANDRUM ET AL.
Procedure
Students self-selected to participate in the study using an
online scheduling program. Once enrolled, we provided
students a link to an online survey in which we adminis-
tered the CSAT, LOGO II (Eison, Pollio, and Milton 1986),
and other survey questions. The participants were given 50
minutes to complete the online surveys. Students received
course credit and were debriefed and thanked for their par-
ticipation.
RESULTS
Factor Analysis Outcomes
We designed the CSAT to measure three distinct aspects
of student textbook experience: purchasing the textbook,
using the textbook, and liking the textbook. We subjected
participant responses to the original pool of items to an ex-
ploratory factor analysis.1For the items measuring intent
to purchase, we identified three distinct factors: (1) learn-
ing and understanding, (2) class requirement, and (3) text-
book cost. For the items measuring a student’s degree of
liking the textbook, we identified three factors: (1) practical
application to student’s lives and convenience, (2) accessi-
bility, and (3) graphs and tables. For the items measuring
student’s use of a textbook, we identified three factors: (1)
study aids, such as chapter reviews, (2) instructor use of the
textbook, and (3) ease of use. The items are presented in
table 1.
Learning Orientation and Grade Orientation
Results
We correlated LOGO II results with each of the subscales
yielded by the CSAT instrument. The benefit of this approach
is that if CSAT scores are significantly correlated with well-
established instruments, this begins to build the case for the
validity of the CSAT. See table 2 for all correlations between
CSAT subscales and LOGO II scores.
DISCUSSION
Our goal was to develop a scale to measure student opin-
ions about purchasing, liking, and using a textbook. Results
from Study 1 indicate initial success. When it comes to why
students like textbooks, three factors emerged: (a) practical
application to student’s lives and convenience, (b) accessibil-
ity, and (c) graphs and tables. Students care that the material
they learn through their coursework will make a difference
in their lives and that the information is readable. The appre-
ciation of graphs and tables seems counterintuitive. Perhaps
graphs and tables help students believe that the textbook is
a credible source, or possibly that when a textbook contains
large numbers of tables and graphs that there is less actual
text to read.
Students use textbooks when study aids and chapter re-
views are provided, when an instructor uses a textbook, and
when the book is easy to use. Students indicated that when a
textbook is used by an instructor, this encourages student use.
The fact that students prefer to use textbooks that are easy to
use is intuitive and on par with the notions of convenience
and accessibility discussed previously. It would be interest-
ing to determine if the CSAT use subscale items are related
to how much students actually do use their textbook—see
Study 2 for the use subscale comparison with a self-report
measure of textbook use.
Different patterns of correlations emerge between CSAT
scores and LOGO II scores—these comparisons help provide
initial indications of validity as a new scale is compared to
an established scale. For example, two CSAT subscales only
correlated significantly with behaviors (learning- and grade-
oriented behaviors): purchase the textbook because of a class
TABLE 2
Relationship Between CSAT Subscale Scores and LOGO II Subscale Scores
Subscales Learning-Oriented Attitudes Learning-Oriented Behaviors Grade-Oriented Attitudes Grade-Oriented Behaviors
Purchase for learning and
understanding
.23b.39∗∗ .04 .08
Purchase because of class requirement .12 .23∗∗ .07 .21b
Purchase depending on cost .00 .18
.13 .23b
Like due to practical applications and
convenience
.41b.20∗∗
.28b.03
Like due to accessibility .22b.09 .24b.11
Like due to tables, graphs .12 .02 .16a.17a
Use due to study aids .39b.12 .28b.08
Use because instructor uses .24b.04 .19b.01
Use due to ease of use .44b.03 .38b.06
CSAT Total Score .46b.22b.30b.05
Notes: N =200. CSAT =Collegiate Student Assessment of Textbooks.
ap<.05.
bp<.01.
STUDENTS AND TEXTBOOKS 21
requirement, and purchase the textbook depending on cost.
Given that purchasing is a behavior, these correlations are
not surprises. The CSAT subscale “purchase for learning and
understand” correlated significantly with learning-oriented
attitudes and behaviors; the subscale “like due to tables,
graphs” only correlated significantly with grade-oriented at-
titudes and behaviors. Speculatively, these results may indi-
cate use of the CSAT may appeal to faculty to differentially
predict among students their differing levels of learning and
grade orientations, and correspondingly, to adjust classroom
pedagogy when warranted.
Given that the initial signs of validity and reliability of
the CSAT are positive, the utility of the CSAT may help ex-
plore how student attitudes about textbooks influence actual
grades. In addition, how does the CSAT compare with an-
other textbook usage scale, the TAUS (Gurung and Martin
2011)? We designed a second study to explore the relation-
ships between CSAT and TAUS scores, additional items of
interest, and actual student course performance.
STUDY 2
METHOD
Participants
Administered as a national online study, 810 introduc-
tory psychology students participated from 14 different in-
stitutions (however, it should be noted that 56.5% were
from the affiliation of the R. Eric Landrum and Nathan
Spann): Beloit College, Boise State University, Emporia
State University, Indiana University, Marian University, Mis-
souri Western State University, Mount Marty College, Penn-
sylvania State University–Beaver Campus, Pennsylvania
State University–Lehigh Valley Campus, Providence Col-
lege, Purdue University–West Lafayette Campus, University
of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, University of South Florida, and
the University of Wisconsin–Platteville. Thirty-five partic-
ipants did not indicate institutional affiliation. The sample
comprised 329 men (40.6%), 443 women (54.7%), and 38
participants did not indicate sex. There were 59.8% first-year
students, 25.6% sophomores, 7.5% juniors, and 2.7% seniors
(36 participants did not report year in school). The average
age was 20.15 years (SD =4.2 years), ranging from 17 to 55
years old.
Materials
We administered two textbook assessment instruments, the
CSAT and the TAUS, online using Qualtrics survey soft-
ware. The TAUS consists of 22 questions designed to assess
the main components of a textbook—Cronbach’s alpha in-
teritem reliability coefficients are provided in brackets: fig-
ures [.79], tables [.81], photographs [.83], research examples
[.83], everyday examples [.82], pedagogical aids [.86], visual
appeal [.55], and writing quality [.85]. Students responded
on a Likert-type scale with responses ranging from 1 (not at
all)to7(very much so). A subset of the participants were
enrolled in the R. Eric Landrum’s introductory psychology
course. Students in the course could enroll in this study just
like other students could self-select into the study. We did
not realize the possibility of connecting student course per-
formance data to the Study 2 data until after the completion
of the semester, hence, we submitted a retrospective Insti-
tutional Research Board application (with subsequent ap-
proval). For this subset of the total participants, we added
student performance data, such as points earned (total quiz
points, cumulative final exam points, and total points earned)
and the student’s letter grade in the course.
Procedure
We mailed a letter to every Department of Psychology chair-
person in the United States (N=1,237) requesting his or
her participation in a series of national studies, individually
described on postcards (10 of the letters were returned as
undeliverable). One of the postcards is described the present
article, and we encouraged the department chair to ask intro-
ductory psychology instructors to provide a link to a Qualtrics
survey to their introductory psychology students. Respon-
dents had no time constraints once the survey software was
accessed.
RESULTS
The overall means and standard deviations for CSAT and
TAUS scales are presented in the outer margins of table
3. The following scale scores significantly correlated with
self-reported student GPA: CSAT Like Textbook Because of
Practical Applications and Convenience subscale, r(574) =
.10, p=.018; CSAT Use Textbook Due to Ease of Use
subscale, r(574) =.09, p=.017; TAUS Figures subscale,
r(573) =.10, p=.018; and TAUS Photos subscale,
r(571) =.09, p=.027.
Reliability of CSAT Subscale Scores
Study 1 addressed the development and initial testing of the
CSAT. Study 2 provided an opportunity to replicate the reli-
ability of the subscales, as well as extend the validity of the
CSAT in comparison with the TAUS (see “Intercorrelations
Between CSAT and TAUS”). Cronbach’s alpha reliability es-
timates based on Study 2 data for the CSAT subscales are the
following: Purchase for Learning and Understanding (.83);
Purchase Because of Class Requirement (.89); Purchase De-
pending on Cost (.89); Like Due to Practical Applications
and Convenience (.90); Like Due to Accessibility (.86); Like
Due to Tables, Graphs (.92); Use Due to Study Aids (.81);
Use Because the Instructor Uses (.85); and Use Due to Ease
of Use (.82).
22 LANDRUM ET AL.
TABLE 3
Intercorrelations Between CSAT and TAUS Scales, With Overall Means (Standard Deviations)
TAU S
Figures
TAU S
Tables
TAU S
Photos
TAU S
Research
Examples
TAU S
Everyday
Examples
TAUS Ped-
agogical
Aids
TAU S
Vis ual
Appeal
TAU S
Writing
TAU S
Composite
Row
Means
(SD)
CSAT purchase for learning
and understanding
.19b.20b.23b.21b.18b.19b.09a.15b.25b4.14 (0.8)
CSAT purchase because
class requirement
.28b.26b.25b.26b.18b.25b.18b.26b.33b3.35 (0.7)
CSAT purchase depending
on cost
.02 .00 .09.09.05 .00 .10∗∗
.06 .02 2.56 (0.9)
CSAT like due to practical
applications &
convenience
.16b.10b.23b.24b.29b.20b.08a.16b.24b4.08 (0.6)
CSAT like due to
accessibility
.15b.15b.10b.16b.17b.21b.12b.23b.22b3.39 (0.9)
CSAT like due to tables,
graphs
.26b.35b.17b.15b.10b.13b.08b.15b.25b3.31 (0.9)
CSAT use due to study aids .21b.17b.23b.26b.22b.27b.15b.23b.29b3.78 (0.6)
CSAT use because
instructor uses
.18b.20b.19b.26b.18b.20b.14b.19b.26b3.64 (0.9)
CSAT use due to ease of use .21b.15b.23b.25b.24b.18b.09b.18b.26b3.97 (0.6)
CSAT total .29b.26b.29b.32b.30b.30b.19b.29b.38b3.68 (0.4)
Column means (SD) 4.75 (1.2) 4.72 (1.2) 5.09 (1.3) 5.02 (1.1) 5.27 (1.2) 5.01 (1.3) 4.49 (1.1) 4.90 (1.3) 4.89 (0.9)
Notes: The degrees of freedom range from 776 to 780. CSAT =Collegiate Student Assessment of Textbooks; TAUS =Textbook Assessment and Usage
Scale. CSAT scores range from 1 (strongly disagree)to5(strongly agree) and TAUS scores range from 1 (not at all)to7(very much so).
ap<.05.
bp<.01.
Intercorrelations between CSAT and TAUS
An important component of new scale development
is to establish a record of validity. table 3 presents the
intercorrelations between CSAT subscales and total score
with TAUS subscales and the composite score.
Percentage of Reading Completed
We correlated the CSAT and TAUS scores with this additional
question “thinking about the amount of reading assigned in
your introductory psychology course, what percentage of
the total amount of reading do you actually complete?” All
correlations are presented in table 4
Relationship Between Scale Scores and Student
Performance in Introductory Psychology
For a subset of participants (n=105), we connected stu-
dent grade data to their present survey responses. From their
particular introductory psychology course, the data included
here are (a) total of 10 best quiz scores from 13 possible
quizzes (maximum total points =400), (b) cumulative final
exam score (maximum total points =130), (c) clicker points
(a rough index of attendance and participation; maximum
total points =100), (d) total course points earned (maximum
total points =630), and (e) numerical course grade, where 4
=A, 3 =B, and so on. When the CSAT scales and the TAUS
scales are correlated with each of the five course performance
measures, no significant correlations emerge.
DISCUSSION
If students do not read the textbook, then it is difficult for
students to obtain the benefits that instructors aim to provide
with textbook selection. The CSAT and TAUS scales are
particularly useful in conjunction with student self-reports
of the percentage of their introductory psychology text-
book actually read; the correlations are presented in table
4. For instance, the motivation for purchasing the textbook
is related to student reading, as evidenced by the correla-
tion between self-report of reading completed and scores on
the CSAT Purchase Because of Class Requirement subscale
(r=.33). The overall quality of the features and pedagog-
ical aids presented in a textbook also relate to self-report
of student reading, evidenced by the correlation with the
TAUS composite score (r=.27). The different subscales
of the CSAT and TAUS, used in conjunction with the in-
formation in table 4, provide instructors and authors critical
information about the constructs related to students reading
their textbooks.
What is the utility of CSAT and TAUS scores in relation to
student performance, either overall GPA or a students’ actual
earned grade? Students with higher GPAs also rated their
STUDENTS AND TEXTBOOKS 23
TABLE 4
CSAT and TAUS Score Correlations With
Self-Reported Percentage of Book Read Scores
Score
Correlation With
Percentage Read
CSAT purchase for learning and understanding .25b
CSAT purchase because class requirement .33b
CSAT purchase depending on cost .14b
CSAT like due to practical applications and
convenience
.07
CSAT like due to accessibility .12b
CSAT like due to graphs, tables .04
CSAT use due to study aids .12b
CSAT use because instructor uses .15b
CSAT use due to ease of use .09a
CSAT total score .19b
TAUS figures .25b
TAUS tables subscale .21b
TAUS photos subscale .12b
TAUS research examples subscale .19b
TAUS everyday examples subscale .17b
TAUS pedagogical aids subscale .19b
TAUS visual appeal subscale .12b
TAUS writing subscale .25b
TAUS composite score .27b
Notes: The degrees of freedom range from 739 to 745. CSAT =Colle-
giate Student Assessment of Textbooks; TAUS =Textbook Assessment and
Usage Scale. CSAT scores range from 1 (strongly disagree)to5(strongly
agree) and TAUS scores range from 1 (not at all)to7(very much so).
ap<.05.
bp<.01.
textbooks higher on the CSAT Like the Textbook Because
of Practical Applications and Convenience subscale and the
Use the Textbook Due to Ease of Use subscale. Overall GPA
was also significantly positively correlated with the TAUS
Figures and Photos subscales. These patterns of responses
may help future researchers to build profiles of the types of
features that appeal to high-ability learners as well as students
who may struggle a bit more in college.
We added actual course performance measures to a subset
of the participants enrolled in the R. Eric Landrum’s course
to the existing Study 2 data, linking CSAT, TAUS, and other
measures to their cumulative quiz scores, total points earned
in the course, and letter grades. There were no significant
correlations between any of the CSAT or TAUS measures and
the course performance data. However, this linkage may be
indirect; there were significant positive correlations between
the item “percentage of the reading completed” and quiz
scores (r=.29), total course points (r=.29), and final
course grade (r=.33).
Finally, as Study 2 involved a large sample and included
the administration of the CSAT, reliability estimates could
be re-evaluated (given that the development and initial ad-
ministration of the CSAT occurred in Study 1). Interitem
reliability analyses using Cronbach’s alpha yielded reliabil-
ity coefficients for the nine subscales of the CSAT ranging
from .81 to .92.
GENERAL DISCUSSION
With the results of this research, we begin to build the case
for utility of the CSAT scale by providing initial evidence
of validity and reliability. Study 1 established the support
for the various subscales of the CSAT (intent to purchase,
likability, and use). These factors can now be used to further
explore relationships with other variables related to college
student success in the classroom, such as general learning
from textbooks, course interest, retention of course material,
and so on. The results of Study 2 continue to build our un-
derstanding between textbook design features (pedagogical
aids in particular), student reading levels, and actual course
performance. For instance, the results depicted in table 4 are
particularly useful in relating textbook characteristics and
instructor choices on self-reported reading levels. Students
who purchase the book for learning and understanding and
because it is required are more likely to read the book. Fur-
thermore, the writing, figures, tables, research examples, and
pedagogical aids tend to be the textbook characteristics most
positively associated with student reading.
To what extent do attitudes about textbooks (purchase,
like, use) and textbook characteristics (e.g., pedagogical aids)
influence student performance (learning)? None of the CSAT
and TAUS subscale scores directly correlated with any of
the course performance measures, although quiz scores, to-
tal course points, and numerical letter grade all significantly
positively correlated with percentage of reading completed.
Recent research on student outcomes has reported the same
findings (Gurung and Martin 2011). Gurung (2003) reported
that no particular pedagogical aid positively correlated with
student exam performance, and actually found that higher rat-
ings of the helpfulness of key terms negatively correlated with
exam performance. Over the course of four exams, Gurung
(2004) reported that perceived helpfulness of pedagogical
aids was not positively related to exam performance. Thus,
from the existing published research, there does not seem to
be evidence to support a direct relationship between student
attitudes about textbooks and pedagogical aids in relation to
actual course performance. However, the evidence from this
study suggests a possible indirect mechanism. As presented
in table 4, multiple CSAT and TAUS subscales were signif-
icantly correlated with the percentage of the textbook read.
For the participant subset in Study 2, there were significant
positive correlations between percent of textbook read and
quiz scores, total points earned, and numerical course grade.
The direct CSAT/TAUS scores course performance link
is not present, but the CSAT/TAUS scores percent of text-
book read course performance intermediate links exist
via significant positive correlations. What missing modera-
tor variable may help explain the indirect route? One possible
24 LANDRUM ET AL.
moderator is the role of the instructor. It could be the case
that when the textbook quality is outstanding, and its ped-
agogical aids are particularly well suited for students, the
quality of instruction may make little to no difference re-
garding student learning. It could also be the case that when
the instruction is superb, and perhaps the textbook is not well
matched to the specific student population, the quality of in-
struction can negate any potential pedagogical aid effects (or
textbook differences) as they relate to student performance.
Future researchers may want to incorporate a measure of
teacher performance such as the Teacher Behavior Checklist
(Keeley, Smith, and Buskist 2006) to determine the poten-
tial instructor impact on the relationship between textbook
characteristics and pedagogy and student grades.
Considering the ubiquitous nature of textbooks in higher
education, the stakes are high—both in number of students
affected and resources allocated toward textbooks. If a direct
relationship does not exist between textbook qualities and
pedagogical aids, then it appears that our collective attention
should turn to the possible instructor by textbook interaction
to ascertain the impact on student learning. To understand
the complex process of student learning, complex research
methodologies are necessary to answer these questions of
interest.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors acknowledge Kelti Baker for her assistance with
this research.
NOTE
1. We used a varimax rotation, eigenvalue cutoffs >
2.0, and factor loadings >.50. Following each fac-
tor, we present the Cronbach’s alpha inter-item relia-
bility statistic. For the items measuring intent to pur-
chases: (1) learning and understanding (α=.82), (2)
class requirement (α=.85), and (3) textbook cost (α
=.83). For the items measuring a student’s degree
of liking the textbook: (1) practical application to stu-
dent’s lives and convenience (α=.90), (2) accessibility
(α=.80), and (3) graphs and tables (α=.87). For the
items measuring student’s use of a textbooks: (1) study
aids, such as chapter reviews (α=.90), (2) instruc-
tor use of the textbook (α=.88), and (3) ease of use
(α=.87).
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... Several studies have looked into how students view the relationship between textbook layout and their ability to study (Lan-drum & Clark, 2006;Landrum, Gurung, & Spann, 2012;Weiten, Guadagno, & Beck, 1996). A variety of research papers are focused on textbooks used in college-level psychology courses. ...
... Vol. 17, No. 11 2021et al. (2012. Another technique is to study student responses and how preferences and self-reporting relate to course grades. ...
... Another technique is to study student responses and how preferences and self-reporting relate to course grades. Landrum, Gurung, and Spann (2012) used the CSAT and TAUS to measure student comprehension (1996). Purchased textbooks were more likely to be read, the authors suggest. ...
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