Shani Hartley reviews two of the textbooks on offer for Business Studies students in 2011.
Business Studies in Action
by Stephen Chapman
ISBN 13 9781742161334
Expected release date: Nov 2010
Business Focus Preliminary
By Mike Horsley, Ian Biddle, Graham Harper, Robert Mulas, Natasha Terry-Armstrong
ISBN 978 1 44252 909 0
Publisher: Pearson Secondary
Expected release date: Dec 2010
Last year, according to the NSW Board of Studies, approximately 16,000 students sat the HSC Business Studies Examination, making it a very lucrative market for textbook publishers to snare. Due to a new syllabus being issued for Business Studies in 2011, there is a new batch of textbooks vying for a place on school booklists. It is my job to make that selection for our students. However, I am tempted to not use a textbook at all. I teach in a technology rich environment where students are able to use a range of resources so I’m finding it increasingly hard to justify the purchase of one expensive textbook.
In the last decade our Business studies students have used three different versions of a Preliminary Business Studies textbook. The first one we used was published by Longman (since absorbed into Pearson Publishing) and written by Sykes, Hansen and Codsi. It contained good case studies and diagrams but it was too wordy. Then we switched to the Leading Edge version by Robert Barlow and Kate Dally because it was easy reading and had a fantastic workbook to accompany it. However, the text lacked substance so for the last few years we have used Business Studies in Action by Stephen Chapman and Natalie Devenish, originally under the Wiley label, but now under its Australian school division, Jacaranda. There are sections in this textbook which are too complicated and other areas which could have a little more detail, but overall it has just the right level of depth for our students. During this time our worksheets and teaching programs have settled into a nice partnership with this textbook but that is about to change.
The first publisher to woo me was Jacaranda with an emailed invitation to a workshop. The main author of Business Studies in Action, Stephen Chapman, is an excellent presenter through his knowledge and engaging real life stories from the classroom so I accepted the invitation.
The workshop was useful for providing an overview of the new syllabus and discussing some ideas with other teachers regarding implementation in the classroom. The textbook appears professional with engaging photographs and a clear and colourful layout. Chapman attempts to make students think like business people, particularly with the What would you do section at the start of each chapter. This supports my Business Studies class motto of ‘keeping it real’. I encourage students to treat their studies not as school work but as preparation for actually running a business one day.
Jacaranda offers an online supplement to the textbook including case studies, worksheets and crosswords. Although this website is still being developed I am surprised it doesn’t have what could be called truly interactive and engaging resources, other than the major business plan project. The project involves video and a range of images to grab students’ attention but really requires the finesse and sophistication that students now encounter on a regular basis online. For instance there is no provision for networking within the group version of the project. The ‘jacaranda plus’ website is the feature Jacaranda is pushing the most but from my school’s highly technological perspective it isn’t a very appealing aspect.
Soon after I attended the Jacaranda workshop a friendly saleswoman from Pearson visited my school. The Business Studies textbook she showed me looked like it was merely a hatchet job of the existing version with the same old style of activities, few pictures and a dated colour palette of dark cyan and purple. It also has online support but similarly to the Jacaranda website it fails to live up to its hype. Pearson have now also organised a workshop but there is little point in me attending another one.
In a school immersed in technology such as mine, we are moving away from traditional textbooks and using increasingly more online resources. Online content is generally included in the exorbitant price charged for textbooks but if teachers only want the online component it is still very expensive. To go without textbooks and only use the online component, Pearson have said it would be 70% of the cost of the textbook per student. It would be better if publishers broke their online content into components with small fees for each part. Teachers could then use only the most suitable aspects for their classes. Parents are understandably not amused at paying over $60 for a textbook to only have it used a small amount in class.
That said, due to time constraints, I have chosen Business Studies in Action by Stephen Chapman to be on our booklist for Year 11 students next year. There is a distinct cultural change occurring in the teaching and learning environment. The students are ready, my school is ready but the publishers and some teachers are not. I am hoping that this time next year I will have constructed a program and negotiated an arrangement with publishers so that we don’t need to commit to just one textbook for the course. There is no one definitive source of knowledge and it is time classrooms and publishers adapted.
Board of Studies NSW Information
Board of Studies NSW (2010, June) Business Studies Stage 6 Syllabus retrieved 26 July 2010 <http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc/pdf_doc/business-studies-st6-syl-from2012.pdf>
Board of Studies NSW (2009, May 1) Business Studies to start 2009 HSC, retrieved 18 September 2010 <http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/media-release/pdf_doc/090501-hsc-exam-timetable.pdf>
Board of Studies NSW (2010, July 19) Official Notice – Revised Stage 6 Business Studies syllabus ready for 2011, retrieved 18 September 2010
Information on Jacaranda’s new Business Studies textbook
Jacaranda (2010) Business Studies in Action Preliminary Course 3E & eBookPLUS, retrieved 18 September 2010 <http://www.jaconline.com.au/engine.jsp?page=product&portal=teachers&product$isbn13=9781742161334&product$learningarea=%20COM1%20&product$states=%20NSW%20&product$yearlevel=%2011-12%20&product$subject=%20Business%20Studies%20&product$publicationdate=%20%20&product$series=%20%20&product$resourcetype>
Jacaranda (2010) Business Studies in Action Preliminary Course, 3E Page Proofs, retrieved 18 September 2010 <http://catalogimages.johnwiley.com.au/Attachment/17421/1742161332/Business%20Studies%20Page%20Proofs.html>
Information on Pearson’s new Business Studies textbook
Pearson Australia (2010) Store – Business Focus, retrieved 18 September 2010 <http://www.hi.com.au/bookstore/bmoredetail.asp?idVal=2685/6457/45257>
Pearson Australia (2010) Business Focus Page Proofs, retrieved 18 September 2010 <http://www.pearsonplaces.com.au/places/pearson_page_proofs/business_focus_page_proofs.aspx> (only available with account access)
Textbooks based on the previous syllabus
Chapman, Stephen, Devenish, Natalie and Dhall Mohan (2006) Business Studies in Action: Preliminary Course, 2nd edition, John Wiley & Sons, Milton, Qld.
Dixon, Tim and Smith, James (2000) Business Studies: Year 11 Preliminary Course, Leading Edge, Sydney.
Sykes, D, Hansen, V and Codsi E (2000) Business Studies: Preliminary, Longman, South Melbourne.
Glad to hear that someone else is going through the same issues in choosing a book. I too am thinking through the idea of being textbook free. I know that such an approach would defintely challenge me more to think outside the box when presenting information & engaging students. Like you guys, Covie are going for Chapman. He is a good bloke with a good business head and the others just don’t match up. Not sure of you have seen the latest Oxford page proofs – my collegue and I went to their workshop the other day. Not bad but not enough to change the current approach with Chapman.