If you’re like many of us, when you were a kid, you believed that just getting a hold of teacher’s edition textbooks would give you all the right answers to the tests.
If you did get access to the teacher’s editions, how helpful were they? And how much of them did you actually read? We assume you finished at least some school, no matter what.
But if you’re in college, you might find you can learn a lot by having copies of teacher’s edition textbooks–maybe it’s not what your teachers necessarily expect you to learn, but it’s a lot, nonetheless.
And now for the real question…
Will Buying Teacher’s Edition Textbooks Help My Grades?
The answer here is a definite “Meh,” accompanied by an equally definite “Does it matter?” That is to say, since the purpose of a textbook is to teach you stuff, you’ll probably learn stuff by reading teacher’s editions textbooks, but it might not be all that you expect.
Are You in College So You Can Read the Teacher’s Textbook?
If you’re in college to learn–which is kind of the point–then (carefully) reading any textbook should help. The teacher’s edition generally has a bit more information than the regular student edition, so it might help a bit more.
And, as long as you’ve figured out where to buy instructor edition textbooks, just make sure you have the right edition for the class. Note that sometimes, teachers will allow students to use certain earlier editions, but you need to ask.
Unless you have the world’s most horrible instructor, though, you should realize that no amount of memorizing exam answers from the teacher’s edition textbook is going to help you with exams.
Did you really believe that simply buying teacher’s edition textbook would allow you to sail through college without putting any extra wear and tear on your brain? No, we didn’t think so. So let’s talk about the real benefits of teacher’s editions.
How Can Teacher’s Edition Textbooks Benefit Students?
For the most part, textbooks marked as “instructor edition” are identical to the version sold to students, except that they sometimes include sample exam questions (with answers) and lesson suggestions.
Since college instructors get these textbooks (“desk copies”) for free, the “instructor edition” label is meant to tell people the book shouldn’t be resold. When no longer needed, many instructors either give (not sell) textbooks to resellers or donate them to charity.
Students’ use of teacher’s edition textbooks is no secret. Some booksellers actively promote them. Here is a list of what we think teacher’s edition textbooks can offer students:
- They serve as study guides by explaining chapter content in varied ways (summaries, questions/answers, hands-on activities, etc.).
- They explain any new material added since the previous edition–which can be helpful for students planning careers in the field covered by the textbook.
- They sometimes recommend ways of teaching the content, which might help students reframe what the teacher has explained to understand it better.
So, all this clearly is intended to help students, whether indirectly (by helping the instructor) or directly (when students can access it).
Textbooks in many fields of study today have abandoned special “teacher content” altogether and instead incorporated it into prefaces and end-of-chapter review sections.
What Else Do I Need to Do?
Glad you asked!
You should understand your textbook (whichever edition you happen to have) as a critical part of your learning experience. It was written by a person or people who are very familiar with the subject area, so the book should provide a thorough overview of key concepts. But, taking some extra steps will help you really learn the subject.
Get to Know Your Instructor
Your instructor has roughly the same credentials as whoever wrote the course textbook. The difference is that this person is live and accessible to you.
Why not make an appointment to meet with him or her to discuss the course and how you’re doing with your class? Most college instructors we know really like it when students seek them out.
Maybe read some background on your instructor beforehand. Look on the college website and do a web search to find out what research they specialize in and any publications they might have.
Your instructor will be flattered that you’re interested in the professional work they do beyond just teaching. Usually, their research interests are much more focused than what they teach.
Having this conversation should help you engage with the course.
Look Over Some of the Suggested Readings in the Textbook
Trying to understand course content at a deeper level than what’s in the textbook can do a lot for your overall understanding. Some of the recommended readings might be more complicated than you’re comfortable with, but try anyway.
It helps to read the introduction and conclusion first (and the abstract if it’s a scholarly article). But knowing you’ve gone outside the boundaries or the textbook should give you a boost–maybe even make you want to read more.
Perhaps your next step should be looking online to see what’s current in the subject of your course?
Find Ways to Engage with Other Students in the Class
Post a note on the class website asking if others are interested in forming a study group. Your classmates might be reluctant to come forward at first, so you’ll need to be a little bold and assertive (that is, show good leadership skills).
Organizing and leading the study group will give you a chance to meet and network with new people. It will also help your own performance tremendously. It’s always been said that the best way to learn something is to teach it.
Follow-Up: The Role of Teacher’s Edition Textbooks
Wow! Look where a simple discussion about teacher’s edition textbooks has gotten us! The message here, cast in broad terms, is to use any resources available to you to get what you want from your college education.
Since there are a lot of resources out there now, start with something basic, like a textbook, and expand outward from there. Draw knowledge from live human beings whenever and however possible. They’ll respond to you!
To follow up on the title questions, “Will buying teacher’s edition textbooks help my grades?” we’ve weighed in with a qualified “yes.” They help students better understand the textbooks themselves.
This, in turn, should give you the confidence and incentive to take advantage of other resources, though.
Don’t we have a great blog? Come back soon for more information about getting textbooks and finding your way through college!