Press Release

Student Watch Reiterates Faculty Influence Over Course Materials

Student Watch Reiterates Faculty Influence Over Course Materials

by Amanda Straub, Special Assistant for Policy, Higher Education


In a webinar held exclusively for AAP members, Elizabeth Riddle, Director of On Campus Research for the National Association of College Stores, revealed that findings from the most recent Student Watch report demonstrated that faculty have significant influence over student behaviors and their decisions to purchase course materials, as well as student perception of course material usefulness.

“Faculty recommendations have a strong impact and students are listening,” said Riddle.

According to NACS, a large majority (93%) of students report they used their digital materials when their instructor incorporated it into their classes. Students are increasingly seeing the benefit of digital materials because of their convenience, portability, lower cost and ease of navigation. Students are also more receptive to digital textbooks and their perceived value increases as they use them over time; preferences are shifting towards digital as exposure increases during K-12. Instructors must be prepared to support this new style of course content and learning.

More than half (55%) of students considered their materials “very” to “extremely” useful. This jumped to 72% when faculty incorporated them regularly into class and assignments. Students were willing to pay $180 to $195 for materials perceived as “very” or “extremely” useful. Interestingly, the average amount students actually spent on their most expensive course material was $145. Students continue to see value in their course materials and are willing to spend more if they believe the materials will be useful.

Faculty also influence student decisions to actually obtain digital course materials. Sixty-nine percent of students acquired an access code because their instructor required it and 39% of students said they did not acquire an access code when faculty did not require it.

Faculty are the top source for 81% of recommendations for where to obtain course materials. The likelihood of a student purchasing through a specific retailer increases with a faculty recommendation. In the 2015/2016 academic year, 42% of students purchased at least one course material through the publisher because of faculty recommendation, versus just 7% who might have purchased through the publisher on their own.

Students find the most value in their course materials for practical reasons such as studying for exams, used for homework, used for assigned readings, used for in-class assignments and used by the professor. Faculty, on the other hand, think that course materials are the most valuable to students when it helps students better understand the topic.

For more information on the Student Watch report, visit