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Wednesday, June 18 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
PSD.33 – So Many Books, So Little Time: The Selection Process for a University Common Book Program

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Many post-secondary institutions are striving to transform education by expanding learning to outside of the classroom and across disciplines.  A common book program (CBP) has become one popular mechanism that colleges and universities across the United States, and now Canada, employ to transform the first-year student experience.  By reading a common book (CB) during orientation, it is hoped that first-year students can quickly get a taste of the academic flavour of the university, become involved in on-campus activities, make connections across a variety courses and disciplines, and be introduced to the critical thinking, reading and literacy in post-secondary studies (Ferguson, 2006).  In this session, we share the book selection process for a CBP at X University, the lessons learned in selecting a book, and future goals of the CB selection process.  Session participants who currently participate in a CBP or who are considering a CBP at their institution can benefit from our experiences and suggestions for implementation.

Despite the popularity of CBPs, there exists very little research on virtually all aspects of CBPs.  While we have conducted research on participants’ satisfaction with a CBP (in press), we wanted to shed light on the book selection process.  If CBPs have the potential to transform the first-year student experience, the book chosen is an integral part of the success of the program.  Grenier (2007) investigated 80 American CBPs and reported the following are common criteria for book selection: readability, length, and author availability.  However, we can find no published research that details the process of how these books are selected.

During the 2012-2013 year, X University’s CBP selection committee (consisting of staff, faculty, students, and administrators) narrowed the nominations, and the final book was selected using an online campus-wide vote.  As researchers, we wanted to know: a) What are the criteria for book selection? b) How does the decision-making process evolve? c) What are the decision-makers' reflections on the book selection process?  To answer our questions, we observed CB committee meetings and we interviewed each committee member (N = 10) after the book was chosen. This session will highlight our study’s results and reflect on the implications for future practice.

Wednesday June 18, 2014 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
A240 McArthur Hall