So we have heard about the ideal textbook from a geographer’s point of view, but what about a business student? Over the past two and a half years of my course I have been assigned around 18 core textbooks and have used many many more in further reading (click here to see how I manage all these). This means that I have a good idea of what works well for me and what makes me despair at the first page. In this blog post I am going to run through the details of what I would love to see in a textbook on my next reading list.
Once you’ve scoured the library shelves and pulled out your chosen book, the first thing you notice is the exterior. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you just can’t help yourself!
Ideally, I like to see a nice bright cover, with an image representing what will unfold inside. It should provide you with clues as to the context and the message.
Structure, Structure, Structure.
Once your inside, structure is key. Shorter paragraphs separated with clear heading and subheading can help to make the reading process so much easier. An added bonus is when you have a textbook that provides definitions for the key points along the side and uses visual diagrams to represent the concepts that they are discussing. As with the exterior, colour again is very important, but not essential if the structure is clear enough and well spaced out.
I have to admit that I have never used the questions that you often find at the back of chapters as I don’t find that I have the time to do so. However, I have had textbooks in the past which provided online multiple choice quizzes that have been really useful for exam revision. My ideal textbook, would also come with short videos, or even some sound files, that you can access online to explain some of the key concepts. Having a good summary at the end of each chapter is also key as it helps you to review all the new information that you have just taken on board.
I find that some of the best textbooks are the ones that reference throughout and provide you with a list of additional sources at the end. This allows you to seek out more material to expand your knowledge in certain areas. As a business student, textbooks often contain case studies. These are good, but as long as they are not too long, relate clearly to the point and are included in the main text.
Although I often prefer to have a printed copy of a book, E-books offer many additional benefits, such as enhanced search functions and portability. Over the next couple of years, I look forward to seeing how these develop and become more interactive. If you could access videos, sound files and quizzes embedded in the pages it would put a wealth of resources at your finger tips. I imagine that it could make the learning process much more interactive and, by providing information in different formats, help people with different learning styles. However, for now I’ll be working with traditional textbooks and eBooks. Click here to see how I use them to help me in my assignments.