The next few weeks on campus, as students return for a new school year, will see the culmination of months of preparation and hard work from their college’s faculty and administrative staff. Not surprisingly, one of the most essential goals for faculty is to ensure their students’ success — and trying to obtain that best possible outcome doesn’t happen by accident. Well before the summer break, faculty have planned their courses, laid out their schedules and selected their learning materials. Coordinating course requirements for every faculty member and ensuring those materials are available for every enrolled student in time for class is no small feat, but now, a highly effective adoptive tool is making that process a lot easier.
At New Mexico State University at Carlsbad, students are returning to campus and purchasing the textbooks they will need to begin a new semester. In the past, the coordination of those course materials wasn’t always communicated between faculty and the bookstore in the most efficient way. Dr. Robert Keyes, Vice President Business & Finance, admits that in the past, the textbook ordering process would occasionally hit a bump or two. “Our faculty members weren’t really sure just how the book ordering process worked — it wasn’t the best of communication,” he acknowledges.
Keyes wanted to know just where the information gaps were, where improvements could be made, and how that effort could be better coordinated. The first task was to learn more about the textbook ordering process; about lead times, the kinds of ordering information the bookstore needed to know, and how it could help faculty with their adoptions. “To have a better understanding of where the process was going wrong — that really was a revelation,” he recalls.
Key to implementing those improvements was incoming Bookstore Manager, Frankie Miller who, with prior experience in the NMSU system, was invaluable in helping to overcome some long engrained habits in the traditional way of submitting textbook adoptions. “It was a cooperative effort to see how the college and bookstore could work together and better manage our process, and Frankie really helped us with that,” Keyes says, adding, “She also introduced us to FacultyEnlightsm.”
The innovative on-line platform for enhancing the textbook adoption experience would clearly be a convenient tool for the Carlsbad faculty to use to research and adopt textbooks in a convenient way, but Miller wanted to ensure her customers could benefit from the best possible introduction, and scheduled a hands-on training program. “We invited Amanda Marquez, store manager at NMSU Alamogordo, who had achieved 100% adoptions in her first semester with FacultyEnlight, to help with the class,” Miller says.
To ensure as many department heads could participate in the training at the same time, Miller, Keyes and Dr. Mark Buckholz, Interim Chief Academic Officer, reserved use of the University’s Learning Resource Center. “We asked our faculty members to bring along one or two adoptions to practice on in the classroom — where we could help them with hands-on advice,” Miller explains. “We also scheduled an afternoon when there were no classes, no stress and they could take their time and benefit from hands-on experience to learn how easy FacultyEnlight was to use,” she adds.
The training itself took little more than a couple of hours, and Miller says she felt the faculty left feeling more confident and could more clearly appreciate the benefits of the program once they had entered one of two of their own textbook adoptions. The results were significant and immediate. Textbook submissions quickly rose to 97.3 percent and, the following week, to 100 percent. “It was the perfect example of everyone coming together with some really great teamwork, she says.
Nicole Guerrieri, Director of Digital Education for Barnes & Noble College, says experiences like this at NMSU Carlsbad are now widespread across the country, “Our research reveals that faculty who rated their experience with FacultyEnlight as being ‘most satisfied,’ were those who were introduced to it by their store manager,” she says. “We’re seeing a continued increase in the number of online adoptions, with increases of 30 percent year on year — and that’s all due to our bookstore managers’ outreach,” she adds.
In addition to accurate book adoptions, Guerrieri says FacultyEnlight has other important reasons to be attractive to faculty. “Our research tells us that the cost to student is one of their biggest concerns, and FacultyEnlight shows that cost for any book being selected, along with the ability to see how well that particular title is being used, and other cost-effective alternative book selections,” she says.
Dr. Keyes agrees that cost is an important factor to faculty, administration and students alike, and is particularly encouraged by the bookstore’s rental and used-book options. He also recommended that FacultyEnlight training be made available to new staff members as soon as they join the faculty, and made available for review by others. “If our students don’t have the books they need, they’ll become discouraged and could possibly quit class. We want to make sure retention is more than just a classroom concern,” he says, “but is reflected in every aspect of the college.”