CWU News

CWU reduces textbook and course costs for its students

As winter quarter began, Central Washington University students had access to less costly textbooks, that were available the first day of class.

“If a student has the book on the first day of classes, it’s been proven that the chances of them succeeding in that class are much greater,” noted Steve Wenger, Wildcat Shop director. “We’re about student success. We want to see every student make it through to graduation.”

Through new agreements with three of the nation’s largest publishing firms—Cengage, Pearson, and McGraw Hill—the CWU Wildcat Shop is conducting a pilot project this year on the enhanced, economical, “Inclusive Access” service.

“To give you an idea of the savings, the fall Physics 181 book and access code would have been just more than $300,” Wenger said. “Through Inclusive Access we offered students the package for the full year for $106.77.”

The access code allows students to read the textbook, in an electronic format, along with completing homework assignments, and take advantage of enhanced study aids and coursework to augment their learning.

“These are ‘digital-native’ textbooks, with all the bells and whistles—video and audio clips,” Wenger noted. “There are different things that can be done with these type of textbooks that can’t be done with a traditional book. Having those things incorporated make them very good sources for our students to learn, regardless of their learning style.”  
This year’s pilot program pertains to freshmen-level courses in physics, geology, and theatre arts. CWU Bruce Palmquist, CWU physics and science education professor, was among the early campus advocates of the change, including to allow for enhanced student learning.

“You can supplement information in an electronic textbook,” Palmquist said. “For example, as a professor, you can put in the virtual equivalent of a Post-It note to help clarify the topic. It makes it more of a living document and allows for more electronic sharing [by students] as well.”  

What’s being offered will expanded both in terms of subject areas and grade level for winter quarter, Wenger points out.

“For certain classes, this type of presentation is the perfect fit, but I don’t think that ‘the book’ will ever completely go away,” he added, despite predictions of the imminent demise of textbooks for more than 40 years. “To begin with, I see—probably—20 percent of classes moving to this and it will grow. We definitely see this as an option, especially for some of our online classes. Textbooks, and the market for them, have changed more during the last five years than in the previous 30.” 

Students can opt out of the system and then get the necessary books and course materials—at market prices, which Wenger does not expect to happen often.

“This type of platform works for our faculty and students,” Wenger points out. “We’re here to serve, so, if it brings the best possible solution, it’s a win for both students and faculty.” 

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of radio services and integrated communications, 509-963-1487,

January 6, 2017