When Professors Ask for
by Steven Karris
Recently, professors have
been contacting me to find out what “resources” I provide for titles they are
considering for adoption. By resources they mean anything that can help
alleviate their workload, including a syllabus, solutions to end-of-chapter
exercises, exam problems with solutions, programming scripts (which provide
computer-language statements about performing a task such as solving a complex
problem) and presentation materials (which might include view foils for use
with an overhead or slide projector prepared with software packages such as
Microsoft PowerPoint that can be distributed as handouts).
Here are my answers, with the hope
that others who publish for the academic market will find them useful.
A Resources Roundup
My books generally include a
detailed summary at the end of each chapter, and I tell teachers that each
bulleted paragraph of the summary can help them make their own presentation
materials by expanding on the main topic and adding examples or referring to
examples in the text.
As a teacher, I used to give my
students practical information along with a syllabus. The information included
a brief description of the course, its building and room number, the dates and
times of classes and exams, the titles of required and reference texts, exam
policies, the procedure for computing the course grade, my office hour times,
and the location of the nearest parking facility. I’ve saved the form, and I
email it as a PDF attachment so that professors can use it as is, or revise it
as they see fit.
When teachers who have adopted my
title ask for resources, I also pass along lessons learned from experience. For
instance, as a novice instructor, I gave open-book, open-notes exams, but soon I
realized that most students were coming unprepared and spending about 80 to 90
percent of the exam time searching through their textbooks or notebooks. Then,
during the last five minutes, they would write something just for partial
credit. I got better results with closed-book, closed-notes exams. I gave the
students formulas they needed that would have been difficult to memorize, and I
usually allowed 15 minutes apiece for five problems, each carrying a weight of
20 points, making the fourth challenging enough to separate the B students from
the C students, and the fifth a challenge for the best students.
In all my titles, I include
solutions to end-of-chapter exercises along with advice on how and when to
refer to the solutions. But if a professor prefers to use a text without
solutions, I am prepared for that too. My resources include another set of
exercises that professors can give to the students and solutions for them that
the professors can keep for themselves or distribute later.
Other publishers may offer
different resources for academics, and I would certainly like to know what they
are. I believe that the more resources we offer, the better the chances of our
titles being adopted.
Steven T. Karris, the
president and founder of Orchard Publications, is a registered professional
engineer in California and Florida. He has more than 35 years of professional
engineering experience and more than 30 years of teaching experience as an
adjunct professor, most recently at UC Berkeley, California.