I am a professor of Mathematics at a Community College. My department has adopted policies through a majority vote. The two policies I have questions about are:
- An instructor can only use textbooks that have been preapproved by the department. Preapproval requires a majority vote from the department.
- An instructor may not use multiple-choice tests for assessments in class.
I believe both policies have negatively affected my students.
For example, the majority of the instructors in my department want a single textbook to save the students money. However, I believe the textbook used is antiquated. The technology used with the book is subpar and no animations which I believe are a vital component to a calculus course. It seems ridiculous that 51% of the department vote can stifle innovation, especially considering once a teacher uses a book for awhile they are less likely to want to change as it requires more work. It seems like an endless cycle. If I am forced to use their textbook for half my career than I probably wouldn't want to switch in the latter half and would force newbies to use my antiquated textbook... and the cycle continues. In addition, at some point, OER textbooks will be all we can use if the majority of my department prioritizes cost over quality.
In regards to multiple-choice exams, I find that my students can be served better by assessing their ability to expressing answers in different forms. Surprisingly they often don't know how to do this as free-response doesn't require this. Below is a basic example of how I could use multiple choice to aid in students learning:
1/2+1/3 is equivalent to
Students are usually taught to get 5/6, but often don't realize that 20/24 is equivalent because they are simply following a process and not understanding their answer has equivalent forms. I believe using multiple-choice in these scenarios is worthwhile sometimes.
It is my understanding that as a tenured instructor, I am able to teach the class in the pedagogical manner I believe is best for my class. Wouldn't this include what textbook I use and the types of assessments I use?
Maybe I am wrong. However, if I am correct, what sources can I site to my department to sway their understanding? I want to makes sure I do not forward bad information. Thank you.