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Other Can schools make you buy the newest edition of a textbook?

  1. Jun 18, 2016 #1
    So, I did not receive transfer credit for my DE course. The instructor sent out an email that we would be dropped from the course, if we did not have the current edition of Boyce Di Prima DE. I would not mind purchasing an older edition from amazon, but to spend $100 on a textbook that I will not have no use for after, NO!!!!

    Since I already took this class. I went through both a copy of Zill (the mandatory class text) and Ross: DE. I studied from Ross and used Zill as a problem book. I looked at Boyce and it is inferior in all aspects to Ross.

    Can the teacher actually drop me from his class for not having the newest edition of a book?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 18, 2016 #2
    I fail to see the problem. To get the credit for the course, the instructor requires you to purchase the book. That is part of the cost of getting credit in the course. What's the problem? Don't like it? Then go somewhere else, take another instructor, or don't pursue the credit.

    As a relatively recent employee in the Academic world, I have gotten the impression that the Instructor can put any kind of requirement or restriction into the syllabus they want to. Reasonable or not, and I've seen some crazy stuff. The syllabus is perceived as a "contract" between instructor & student. The student can choose not to follow any requirements. But at the end of the semester, if the student receives a poor grade and complains, and is proven to have not followed requirements stated in the syllabus...well, you can figure out where this leads to.

    A lot of these types of restrictions are defensive in nature against whiny crybabies who are over-entitled and think payment of tuition is sufficient for receipt of good grades. Your Instructor probably wants to put these requirements on the student to increase the probability that students can get some good learning out of the experience. In their mind they are prepared to teach the subject matter in a certain way that correlates to the specific textbook. My head explodes several times a semester over things like this. Even though my syllabus says "no cell phones in class", there are a number of students who constantly goof off on their phones during the lecture. Later, they ask me to explain something that was already explained while they were goofing off, not being engaged in the learning experience for which I spent significant effort, and don't even bother taking notes. My time for the lesson was prepared, delivered, and spent, and I don't have the time to do it twice. It must be an effective method because my student evaluations are consistently at the top of the scale. And yet there a couple of malcontents every semester that still complain as if the presence of their body in the lecture room is sufficient for getting an A grade.

    The bottom line: go directly to the instructor and talk to them about this issue and your situation. You may find out that one or the other of you can bend a little bit. And if not, then $100 is part of the cost of getting credit the course. And in the bigger, mature, long-term picture $100 is peanuts.
     
  4. Jun 18, 2016 #3

    SteamKing

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    If you look carefully at the Amazon website, you can rent rather than purchase a textbook for a semester.

    https://www.amazon.com/Elementary-Differential-Equations-William-Boyce/dp/047003940X

    Sometimes, deals can be had on used copies of textbooks, but since you don't plan on keeping the book after the course is over, whichever option you take would not necessarily put you out the complete new price of a textbook. In case you haven't noticed, there is a thriving second hand market for text book, so even if you purchased new, you could sell it to someone in the next class.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  5. Jun 18, 2016 #4
    As SteamKing said, I also highly recommend renting through Amazon. The process simply could not be more painless.

    Also, the professor likely has valid reasons for choosing the new edition of a textbook. Perhaps the homework problems are different and he assigns problems from the book, maybe the earlier edition covers different topics... if you're wondering, you can e-mail him or stop by his office hours. Otherwise, buy the book.
     
  6. Jun 18, 2016 #5

    jtbell

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    Contact the instructor and explain your situation: that you've taken a similar course before and already have two textbooks. If the issue is mainly homework assignments, you can copy them from a classmate's book.
     
  7. Jun 18, 2016 #6
    Yes, the issue is mainly Hw assignments. The same examples and topics are covered in the older editions of the book. I will most likely rent the textbook.
    I was just curious, if a student had any say, whether to buy the newer edition of a book or an older edition. I know that ultimately the student is responsible for completing all course work. Meaning, that my problem 1,2,3,4,5,...,n has to match exactly 1,2,3,4,5,...,n of the what the teacher has assigned. I just found it a bit strange, that a simple cell phone picture or copy machine could fix the problem of not having the correct problem sets. Dropping a student because he does not the newest shiny edition seems a bit excessive.

    I will go the renting route. Thanks Steaming for the suggestion.
     
  8. Jun 18, 2016 #7
    It is excessive. I certainly didn't buy every textbook for the courses I took when I was in school. In fact, some semesters I only bought the books for half the courses, and a friend would buy books for the other half. We would share. Of course, it is your responsibility as the student to get the appropriate homework assignments.

    Unless your professor is going to make each of you prove that you purchased the book, you could probably just do what you want.
     
  9. Jun 18, 2016 #8

    vela

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    This too is what popped into my mind after reading the OP. How would the professor know whether you bought the book or not? The only way, I'd think, is if there's an online component to the textbook purchase. If that's the case, then it's probably a combination of the publisher only allowing online access with purchase of the accompanying textbook and the professor not wanting to deal with students asking for other ways of doing the homework.
     
  10. Jun 18, 2016 #9
    He wants us to take the book every class meeting. Throughout the week, students will work on problems in class from the text book. Text book must be brought every time class meets. Even if we do not use the book for a weak, it does not give you an excuse not to bring the book. Student's will be told to leave the classroom if they do not have the text book. Not having the book for two class lectures is grounds for dismissal from the class.

    This is copied verbatim from the syllabus.
     
  11. Jun 18, 2016 #10

    micromass

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    This is seriously stupid, sorry. Education is already expensive enough. What's the need for dumb rules such as this one. They need to give the student more responsibility and not nanny them with things like this.
     
  12. Jun 18, 2016 #11

    symbolipoint

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    The professor made a strong case for his requirement, but I AM WITH YOU. I do not like the requirement either. One possibility for the requirement is that the current edition of the textbook is very much changed in significant ways from the previous edition.
     
  13. Jun 18, 2016 #12

    Andy Resnick

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    (note- emphasis mine)

    Unfortunately, there will always be instructors like this- the price of academic freedom is the freedom to be a jacka$$. Just remember that not every instructor has rules like this.

    Even so, the highlighted part seems to be an onerous burden- especially if this is a required class and you have no other options in terms of other instructors. It could be worthwhile, especially if a group of you feel the same way, to approach the Department Chair (as a group) with your concerns.

    ps- if the above is really verbatim, then point out the spelling error.
     
  14. Jun 18, 2016 #13

    Dr Transport

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    The professor makes the rules, they can enforce them however they see fit, the only recourse is to file a complaint with the department chair and see where it goes. Chances are if they are tenured, you got no choice, rent or buy or borrow the thing and get on with it....
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
  15. Jun 18, 2016 #14

    Vanadium 50

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    I don't like the tone, but the rationale seems not unreasonable. "Mr. MidgetDwarf ,will you go to the board and draw a free body diagram for problem #7?" "Sorry - my version of the textbook only goes up to #6." That just wastes everybody's time.
     
  16. Jun 18, 2016 #15

    micromass

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    That's why I make a pdf file with problems which I distribute to the students for free. It takes 10 minutes of preparation time and it saves the students a ton of money. The benefit is that if you make an exercise bundle, you can use it next year with no extra work.
     
  17. Jun 18, 2016 #16

    symbolipoint

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    Generous and very reasonable.
     
  18. Jun 18, 2016 #17

    micromass

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    Thank you. But I'm just doing what I'm being paid for. I'm not being paid to rip off financially struggling students even more.
     
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