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As educators, we are all committed to providing our students with a quality educational experience. Instruction is central to the delivery of this type of experience and textbooks serve as the foundations of classroom instruction


January 21, 2011
By Canadian Council of Massage Therapy Schools

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As educators, we are all committed to providing our students with a quality educational experience. Instruction is central to the delivery of this type of experience and textbooks serve as the foundations of classroom instruction. Massage therapy educators, however, rarely receive any support or guidance in this regard. This article will attempt to propose objective criteria for textbook selection that we can utilize to assist us in choosing texts that will best support and promote our curriculum objectives.

SUBJECT EXPERTISE
Does the book in question contain the relevant knowledge base for the subject area? The first and most important criterion that we can utilize to assess the quality of a given text in supporting delivery of curriculum content is subject knowledge expertise. In other words does the book in question contain the relevant knowledge base for the subject area? How do we determine what is the relevant knowledge base for the subject area? We are guided in this regard by the profession’s (Registered Massage Therapy) competency documents and in their absence (non-registered provinces) the professional associations’ curriculum standard or guidelines for curriculum content. The profession’s competency documents articulate learning competencies for each subject area that define, in broad, general terms, the appropriate subject knowledge for these areas. A competent text will cover at least 60 per cent of the subject base articulated in these competencies.

Subject expertise also requires that a quality text cover subject knowledge competently. A good text should provide accurate knowledge in the subject area and contain the appropriate concepts and ideas in sufficient detail. How can we ensure this? Typically by looking at who wrote the text and asking ourselves, “is the author a subject expert?” Anyone can write a book about anything; however, how do we know that the author knows his or her stuff? This typical tester question revolves around yet another question; does he or she possess the appropriate level of knowledge or training required to be considered a subject expert in the field? Keep in mind that subject expertise is most often judged by credentials, unless we are talking about a subject where there is no relevant distinguishing credential. We also need to keep in mind, here, that the subject expert must be a subject expert in the field in question.

Are there any other tests that help us ascertain subject expertise? Yes there are. Subject experts are often recognized as subject experts by independent industry bodies and organizations and often have published extensively over a number of years.

COMPETENCE IN DELIVERY
A text that is competent in delivering subject knowledge is clearly written, coherent and linear in the development and presentation of ideas and concepts. It is written at a reading level that is appropriate for the reading audience. It will, where possible, include review questions and chapter exercises to support the subject content and, very importantly for us in an applied science health-care field, integrate theory and practice.

SUPPORT RESOURCES
Finally, how easy and convenient will the book be for the teacher to use and adapt to his or her classroom instruction? Support resources are often taken for granted but are very important to us as educators and instructors. Our time is always limited and we need to find texts that are not unduly burdensome in terms of implementation, or better still, find texts that provide us with support for implementation in the form of a resource coach, training workshop or online support, etc.

COST EFFECTIVENESS
Let’s face it, cost matters and it makes a difference. If a textbook is overpriced, and our students can’t afford to buy it, then it isn’t a good option for us. A good quality textbook should be reasonably priced and this means it should reflect a price that is commensurate with other books in the subject field on the market. How do you know if this is the case? You must research the market, look for other books in the subject area and determine what the average price is for a text on this topic.

CCMTS TEXTBOOK REVIEW SERVICE
The Canadian Council of Massage Therapy Schools now offers a Textbook Review Service. The CCMTS Education Committee will review texts according to criteria in this article and publish their results in the form of recommendations. CCMTS invites authors and publishers to forward their texts to the CCMTS Education Committee. Additional information regarding the CCMTS Textbook Review Service and an application for review of a textbook can be downloaded from the CCMTS website at www.ccmts.ca.


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