How We Redesigned the Textbook

The transformation of the textbook was guided and accomplished by the rigorous application of the following principles and strategies:

We employed the following six research-based principles (Clark & Mayer, 2014) for multimedia learning as the guidelines for presenting the textbook content:

  1. Multimedia Principle: Use both words and pictures to present content.
  2. Coherence Principle: Avoid using extraneous visuals.
  3. Spatial Continuity Principle: Place words near corresponding graphics.
  4. Segmenting Principle: Break a continuous lesson into bite-size segments.
  5. Signaling Principle: Highlight main ideas and organizations of the material.
  6. Pre-training Principle: Ensure that learners know the names and characteristics of key concepts.

While we added more images to help present content, we ensured that the use was minimal and they were relevant to the content. We used curated videos extensively to help explain course concepts. These videos were selected from reliable sources. We only selected short videos that are generally no more than 10 minutes long. They must also be accessible with captions or transcripts. We embedded a total of 111 videos in 20 chapters – students do not need to navigate away from the book in order to watch the videos.

We embedded frequent self-assessment exercises in the textbook to engage students by enabling them to practice and reflect on their learning. We added 130 quick knowledge check questions, which are multiple-choice questions placed right after the corresponding topics. There are also 74 review questions, which are open-ended questions at the end of each chapter.

We provide students with instant feedback on both correct and incorrect answer choices when they practice with quick knowledge check questions. Students can also check for answers and explanations for the review questions.

We believe in the benefits of a student-as-producer approach – students are not only consumers of knowledge but also producers of knowledge. We recruited several students to help with content, assessment, and web design under the supervision and guidance of the project leads. They have had some experience with the course, for example, completing the course as a student, working as a teaching assistant, or a peer tutor for the course. Their perspectives on how a textbook should be designed for students became valuable assets for the project. We appreciate their contributions, without which this project would not be successful. To learn more about these contributors, please take a look at our project team.

The textbook was reviewed by people who are not involved in the project, They provided valuable feedback to the book and its redesign. We made revisions based on their feedback before the textbook was made available to students.

We collect feedback from students who take the class, ECON-2105, for continuous revision and improvement of the textbook. We also welcome feedback from other educators and students who use the textbook. Please feel free to let us know how we can make the textbook better so that it can be beneficial to all people learning macroeconomics.

Students’ Feedback on the Textbook

The redesigned textbook was put into use in ECON-2105 in Fall 2020. We conducted a survey and a total of 128 students completed it.  When asked about their satisfaction with the textbook, 87% of them said they are Very Satisfied or Satisfied. Dr. Chaohua Ou and Dr. Aselia Urmanbeta presented the findings of the study at the 2020 Open Education Conference. To learn more about this study, please read this post available at the Center for Teaching and Learning blog.

Here are a few comments from the students when we asked them what they like the best about the textbook:

I love how the textbook is so interactive and really reinforces the lectures. I think it is one of the best textbooks for a class I have ever had due to its interactions, information, and questions it provides.

ECON-2105 Student, Fall 2020

The textbook is a nearly perfect source for learning the info and has helped me a lot.

ECON-2105 Student, Fall 2020

I found the in-text questions after a section to be the most useful to understand the material after I read it.

ECON-2105 Student, Fall 2020

I really like how the pictures and models explain concepts deeper and go into detail. It makes learning somewhat easier to understand.

ECON-2105 Student, Fall 2020

I like that it is very broken down and the information is digestible.

ECON-2105 Student, Fall 2020

Its content layout with clear outlines and sections –this gives me a good idea of the material that will be covered and lets me track my progress within a chapter.

ECON-2105 Student, Fall 2020