Monday, March 5, 2012

Textbook Costs and GPA

In the 2010-11 academic year, “full-time college students at four-year institutions spent
an average of $534 on books” (Weston).

In a letter done by the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the
Workforce in 2006, the committee voiced its concerns about the cost of textbooks for college students. In their letter, they released a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In the report was statistical evidence in the increase of textbook costs; “textbook prices have risen at an average of 6% each year since 1987, compared with average annual inflation of only 3% during that period” (Committee on Education and the Workforce).

Now, with textbooks being so costly, the concern is brought toward the material in which
college students are paying for. Unlike in high school where textbooks were required reading, college textbooks are used to reinforce lectures. Therefore, college students could go the whole year without reading their paid textbooks or by not getting the quality of information that they’re paying for.

Taking into account the cost and the potential use of a college textbook, a survey was done
to compare the number of textbooks a student purchases/ rents to their GPA. In doing this survey, information was gathered to see if students who pay more for books, in turn, work harder to achieve better grades. The number of textbooks is directly related to costs, so when more textbooks are required for a class, the more money a student will spend to obtain those textbooks.

The survey consisted of a sample of 83 Kalamazoo College freshmen.

After collecting the responded surveys, the mean/ average was done on the number of
books college students purchased and the number of books they rented. The mean of books purchased was 5.506 and .398 for books rented. According to this data, half of the freshmen purchased their books while a third rented them.

Afterwards, the standard deviation, the measure of the unpredictability of a variable
(Business Dictionary), was taken. The two variables in which the standard deviation was taken for was the number of books purchased and the number of books rented. The standard deviation was 3.479 for purchased books and .975 for rented books.

Then, the correlation, the degree and type of relationship between any two or more
variables in which they vary together over a period of time (Business Dictionary), was also calculated. The correlation between the number of books purchased and their college GPA was
.283, meaning that there’s little to no correlation/ relationship between the two variables. The correlation between the number of books rented and the student’s GPA was .037, showing no relationship.

Ultimately, textbooks are expensive, especially for college students. In purchasing/ renting more textbooks, the college student spends more. However, the expensive textbooks and the information that comes along with it don’t correlate to the student’s GPA. Therefore, college textbooks should become less expensive, because no matter what the costs are of the textbooks, it doesn’t seem to have an effect
on the student’s GPA.

Business Dictionary. (2012). Retrieved from

Committee on Education and the Workforce. (2006). Retrieved from

Weston, L. (2011). Should textbooks really cost $200? Retrieved from

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