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An Instructor's Guide to Selecting Course Materials

Finding new course materials can be quite an undertaking. There are multiple considerations that instructors must take into account, from the quality of the product to the style of the textbook, and what supplementary resources or materials are available. As a content area expert, you may already have a good idea about what material will best help your class meet rigorous academic standards. And while we will tackle this topic at length with our instructor resource posts, for this particular article we wanted to dig into two specific areas that you could consider when making your next curricular change. 

  1. Cost to your students
  2. Effort required by you to make the change to new material

The first is pretty simple, when all is said and done it's the amount that students paid for the course materials. Second, as we said at the outset, the process of looking into new curricular options is multifaceted. This factor specifically addresses the compenents of a curricular change which may demand time, attention, research, or development from you as the instructor. 

This infographic below breaks down these two considerations, and places a few different options or curricular packages into the matrix. 


This certainly doesn't encapsulate every option, but from our experience in talking with hundreds of college-level instructors each year, these tend to be some of the most common arrangements. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to course material selection, so these additional resources may help you further decide which option is right at this time:

  • PhysPort - Tons of research-based teaching methods and expert recommendations.
  • PER Central - Under the AAPT ComPADRE Collections, review the curriculum section under the Reviews in Physics Education Research area.
  • The Physics Source - Go to Browse Resources where you can then narrow down your search to specific topic areas.

Do you have any recommended resources, or go-to materials for your course? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Formed from the belief that a homework system should help instructors teach and students learn, Expert TA harnesses the power of technology to encourage practice during homework, while also giving meaningful feedback to both instructors and students. The Expert TA blog was created to serve as a hub of information to help educators track and discuss trends in education, software and student performance.



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