EKU Faculty, Staff, Students Write, Design, Publish Own Orientation Textbook

Eastern Kentucky University delivers the message straight from the experts with its new student orientation textbook, one of the first in the nation written, designed and published entirely by University faculty, staff and students.

“Explore, Evaluate, Expand, Express: Academic Success and the EKU Experience,” which will be used this fall in freshmen orientation classes for all five colleges, had its beginnings at a “first-year experience” conference attended by First Year Courses Coordinator Erin Barnett, who edited the new textbook.

“At the conference, I talked to some of the larger textbook publishers about their customization options,” Barnett explained.  “After returning, I discussed the pros and cons of going the route of a mainstream publisher with others on campus, including Kate Williams, director of EKU’s Quality Enhancement Program, and eventually we decided that we needed to do this on our own terms and create a product specifically for Eastern.”

One of the most important issues behind creating the book was cost. Students had been paying more than $50 for a textbook for the one-hour orientation class, Barnett said. The new book will cost students approximately $20. 

“We were able to keep the price low by eliminating royalties and printing the book through EKU Printing as opposed to a national publisher,” she explained, adding that EKU holds the copyright.

Another motivating factor was that it would allow the integration of EKU’s Quality Enhancement Plan, approved in February 2007 as part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirmation process. The plan calls for the University to develop students who are “informed, critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively.” 

“We wove critical thinking into the book through reflections, activities and content related to critical and creative thinking,” Barnett said. “In addition, our critical thinking chapter is Elder and Paul’s ‘Aspiring Thinker’s Guide to Critical Thinking.’”

While not an initial factor for creating the textbook, the project brought together individuals from across colleges, departments and other areas of campus, allowing for a truly collaborative effort that was a highlight of the experience, noted Barnett.

In addition to Barnett’s role as editor, contributors included copy editor Alisa Pulver, who was honored as Outstanding Senior when she graduated from Eastern in 2011; Teresa Harbett, administrative assistant for First Year Courses, design and layout; and EKU undergraduate student Amber North, who designed the book’s cover.

A steering committee made up of first-year instructors and individuals from Student Affairs and the individual colleges began work in late 2009 to help determine and develop the book’s content and solicit contributions.

Other University administrators offered support during the initial financial, legal and logistical conversations and were instrumental in creating an awareness of the project on campus.

The 300-page book eventually involved more than 140 people from inception to production.

“Thanks to this extraordinary collaborative effort, incoming students will have a book that introduces them to EKU, serving as a guide and resource to them as they undergo the initial stage of the transition from high school students to independent learners,” said Dr. Sara Zeigler, Dean of University Programs.

Published on August 23, 2011