Teaching without a textbook: strategies to focus learning on fundamental concepts and scientific process.
Textbooks are ubiquitous. They are available for almost every conceivable subdiscipline of biology, and few of us would consider teaching a course without using a textbook. Over the years, they have become more colorful, more encyclopedic, and accompanied by more ancillary materials such as CD-ROMs, study guides, and websites. With all these tools to assist our students, it seems reasonable that they are able to learn more and better than ever. Thus, the question most instructors ask themselves is most likely which textbook to use, not whether to use a textbook. But does the use of textbooks really help students learn better? In this Point of View, I invited a commentary on this question from a faculty member who has decided to abandon the use of a textbook in an introductory level cell and molecular biology course.