As the pandemic waned, faculty use of digital course materials also waned.

As the fall term approaches, faculty members finalize course materials—books or articles and ways to find them—to include in their programs. To do this, instructors sort out their preferences regarding the format the course materials should take, whether they should be optional, and the number of materials to be assigned per course.

These choices are captured annually in the “Faculty Watch” survey, conducted by the research arm of the National Association of College Stores. The latest version of the survey provides data on nearly 1,700 faculty members from 19 two- and four-year colleges in the fall of 2021, which kicked off an academic year that has generally been spent in person more than was the case the last year.

One of the main interesting findings from the data was the continuing allegiance of faculty members to traditional print materials. In 2021, about two-thirds of faculty members used print materials. Although this figure is down from 77% in 2020, print is still the most widely used format by teachers.

The share of faculty members who used e-books, however, fell back to pre-pandemic levels. Just over half of faculty surveyed switched to digital course materials in 2021. The year before, in 2020, the share of faculty using e-books had increased, but this appears to be a “temporary spike while classes were taking place online. the report indicates that in the future, the growth of this format should be “less spectacular”.

While about one in three faculty members in 2021 said they would be interested in — or were already part of a textbook accessibility initiative on their campus — they were split on whether affordable textbooks were a priority for them.

For more highlights from the survey, see below:

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