357976 What Can Textbook Authors Do to Make Solutions Manuals More Secure?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014: 8:30 AM
M105 (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
Phillip C. Wankat, School of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

It is in the best interests of textbook authors to have more secure solution manuals.  Developing problems and a solution manual require a significant amount of time.  Professors want problems that are new and do not have solutions that are readily available to students on the internet. One effect of internet pirates’ illegal posting of copyrighted solution manuals without permission is more frequent new editions, which increases the cost of textbooks to students. The following possible partial responses to the proliferation of solution manuals will be explored and audience feedback will be solicited:
  1. Initially, create a partial solution manual that shows solutions to only a portion of the problems.  Make available every year a manual that has an increased number of solutions.  A password protected web site or method to have professors e-mail the author with requests would be required.
  2. Initially, include a limited number of new problems plus a number of older problems in the new edition. The new problems would be identified in the solution manual. The solution manual would have solutions to all of the problems. Solutions to the old problems are in solution manuals for previous editions; thus, students probably have access to solutions. Author makes available every year additional problems on the publisher’s public web site.  The solution manual with the additional solutions would be available by subscription. 
  3. Author prepares a series of similar problems with a spread sheet.  In the solution manual the author shows the solution to only one of the problems in a non-spreadsheet format.  The solution manual could contain answers to the other problems but no solutions.  This technique could be tried either with the spreadsheet in the solution manual and without the spreadsheet.
  4. Prepare solution manual, but with mistakes in some solutions.  Inform professors privately of the problems with mistakes.  Students copying these problems could be handled in a fashion considered appropriate by the professor.
  5. Have a few problems in the book that do not have solutions in the manual.  These would need to be solved in advance to be absolutely positive that they are solvable.
  6. Give problems in the textbook (e.g., design problems) that do not have a single solution. Perhaps present one solution and request the students find alternate solutions.
  7. In the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach old problems and solutions are bundled into the equivalent of a Schaum’s Outline Series, which is sold to students.  Let students have all solutions, but tests are closed book.
  8. Complain vociferously about the pirate sites. Have your university block these sites to make it more difficult for students to find solution manuals.
  9. Make internet pirates “walk the plank.”

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