zyBooks: They Work


Alex Goldberg
zyBooks Account Executive

The first time I looked through a zyBook, I was hooked. I had never seen anything like it before. It was interactive, engaging, and made me want to work through the material. Shortly after, I contacted zyBooks inquiring about a position on their sales team —  even though the position hadn’t even been created yet.

I knew I had to be a part of this company. I had never seen a textbook that covered complex material in such an elegant way, and I figured others would want to know about zyBooks.

Turns out, I was right. Nearly 50,000 students are now using zyBooks in introductory STEM courses, across 200 universities ranging from large state schools like UC San Diego, University of Michigan, and Penn State, to smaller private schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Colorado School of Mines. Whenever a professor or student asks me why they should use zyBooks in their class, or why we have seen such accelerated growth, I always provide the same answer:

zyBooks work.

How do I know zyBooks work? To answer that question, I turn to both the data-driven studies we have been able to produce as a recipient of a National Science Foundation grant, as well as the powerful feedback we have received from users.

One of our most exciting studies, one which won the Best Paper Award at the 2014 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference, found that the interactive approach to learning used in zyBooks resulted in the following when compared to a traditional textbook:

-With a single lesson, zyBooks improved student performance by 16%

-Less-prepared students improved by 64%

-Students self-reported significantly higher levels of engagement with the zyBook

-Students voluntarily spent twice as much time with the zyBook, even though the zyBook had half the text of their regular textbook

While such information encourages professors and students to use zyBooks, even more powerful are the testimonials we receive from current users about how effective zyBooks have been in their classroom.

Professor David Kramer, who uses the Java zyBook in the Introduction to Computer Science course at MSU Denver, wrote:

“Overall, the zyBook is a phenomenal product. You obviously gave a lot of thought to the teaching aspect and to how students will use the textbook.”

Professor Philip Papadopoulos, who uses the Python zyBook for the Introductory Object-Oriented Programming course at UCSD, said:

“The interactive participation exercises enable students to be drilled on the most fundamental concepts while working at their own pace.  They seem to really like the immediate feedback. This frees me to spend more time in lecture on the integration of concepts.  By giving students credit for the required reading tracked by their completion of online exercises, more than 90% are completing their reading each week.”

Professor Timothy Stanley at Utah Valley State University wrote to me after his first semester using a zyBook:

“Within two weeks my students were very desirous to switch exclusively to the zyBook.  The main reason is that [the zyBook] presents reasonable size topics, provides active demonstrations, and then has [learning questions] on the topics.  It was just much easier to understand and use.  And I get reports on the portions of the book students have accomplished, so I don’t have to grade homework.

And one professor wrote to me after using the Discrete Math zyBook:

I have now been asked to teach Discrete Mathematics again in the summer block…Because of my past experience with zyBooks I agreed to teach this topic again only if I could use zyBooks again.”

Before zyBooks, I would have not believed someone if they told me a textbook existed where professors could say with certainty that 90% of their students were doing the reading, that individual professors would teach a course only if they could use that resource, and that students wanted to use that resource exclusively.

Fortunately, such a textbook does exist. And not in just one topic, but in multiple — spanning the breadth of STEM subjects. It’s zyBooks, and it works.

Alex G.


Visit www.zybooks.com to create a free test account.

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