Textbook and Homework Access Code Costs in Higher Education: Student, Academic Dean and Department Head Perspectives on Costs and Implications for Learning

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Research presentation at the 2017 Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy, Virginia Tech. Increased costs of college textbooks by 864% between 1978 and 2013 has spurred numerous studies and expanded student, faculty, library, bookstore, and administrative efforts to reduce costs while maintaining or enhancing student learning potentials. Recent state and national student surveys report substantive impacts of required textbook costs including: student perceived reduction in academic achievement, negative impacts on drop-fail-withdraw rates, and students increasingly treating required materials as optional (Hill, 2016). In an effort to understand local experience, a mixed-methods study replicated and extended multiple student survey questions at a large research university. A companion survey of College Deans and Department Heads at the same institution identified the presence of conversation, concerns, and coordinated and ad-hoc responses to rising textbook and homework software costs. This presentation will highlight findings at one large research university in comparison to and beyond the national context.