Matching Textbook Ancillary Resources to Teaching and Learning Styles

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Authored by

  • Valerie Cox
    Appleton West High School
    Appleton, Wisconsin

Whether you are a veteran or novice AP teacher, choosing the textbook for your course sets the foundation for much of your teaching and student learning. With many textbook options to select from, teachers can easily gloss over a major aspect of the selection process—the teacher and student ancillary resources. With the focus on the student textbook, and competing lists of ancillary materials that often look similar, seldom do teachers truly have the opportunity to compare and contrast the resources that can transform a traditional textbook selection process into a curriculum development process for the course based on the teacher's instructional strengths and teaching style.

Looked at from a historical perspective, "All roads lead to Rome." AP teachers have the College Board curriculum guidelines, and all the major textbooks will get you to the common destination. The difference is in the scenery along your chosen route and how bumpy it will be for you and your students. Multiple learning and teaching styles surely dispute the adage, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." In fact, a quick overview of the available ancillary resources reveals vast differences that will result in classrooms that look and feel as diverse as a walk through the ancient capital itself.

In preparation for this review of ancillary resources, textbook publishers were contacted by World History Connected for examination copies of ancillary materials for the most commonly used textbooks in the AP World History course—Bentley, Bulliet, Spielvogel, Spodek, and Stearns.1 Since the publishers responded in varying degrees of comprehensiveness, this review is based only on the actual examination copies of ancillary resources that were furnished. It is important to note that teachers considering textbooks should insist on seeing all of the current ancillary materials before any final decision is made.

Ancillary resources fall into three general categories: instructional resources, testing resources, and student resources. The resources consist of printed materials, transparencies, CD-ROM media, and web-based media. Some, such as instructor manuals or test questions, are often available in multiple formats.

The first question any teacher needs to ask herself is, "What format am I most likely to use?" For example, some textbooks come with great PowerPoint presentations, but not all AP classrooms come equipped with computers and projectors. While a packaged set of overhead transparencies may be the preferred format for some teachers without a classroom computer and projector, other teachers with a classroom overhead projector may prefer creating their own overhead transparencies from the PowerPoint slides. Knowing your own comfort zone, classroom resources, and instructional preferences is the basis for making sound decisions about ancillary materials.

A second question is, "What type of content am I looking for with visual aids?" A quick comparison of the available PowerPoint presentations and overhead transparencies underscores vast differences in content. Some are strictly maps, others include maps and charts, others include artwork, photos, and diagrams, and some PowerPoint presentations are basically text outlines. In other words, if your course makes extensive use of maps and you choose a textbook that relies on a PowerPoint of outlines as the primary visual aid, what you teach and how you teach it may become a struggle. There is no way of knowing this by glancing at the publishers' lists of resources, so careful review of the format and content of instructional materials is critical before making a textbook decision.

With the understanding that all five textbooks are accompanied by ancillary resources that can enhance teaching and learning, let's analyze some specific products according to predominant teaching and learning styles.

The Instructor's Manual is our starting point. As already mentioned, these reservoirs of a multitude of resources and strategies not only come in print form for all the textbooks, but some also include the manual in Word or PDF documents on an accompanying CD-ROM. If your preparation style relies on computer-based documentation, then you may gravitate to Bentley and Bulliet, since their accompanying CD-ROMs contain the Instructor's Manual.

What do you want from an Instructor's Manual? Bulliet provides a detailed outline for each chapter, and Spodek and Spielvogel have brief outlines of key points, while Bentley and Stearns use summary paragraphs for chapter sections. Bentley and Stearns also choose to provide lecture suggestions with summary paragraphs while Spodek and Spielvogel provide suggested themes and thesis statements, and Bulliet lists lecture topics with a brief bibliography for instructor research.

As one would expect, all of the Instructor's Manuals include discussion questions that could also be used for essay assignments. Each, however, has a different style of presenting the questions and topics. Stearns uses mostly recall questions. Spielvogel provides a topic with multiple questions that are reminiscent of eight-part exam questions. Bulliet and Spodek contain lists of questions for each chapter, most of which require some higher level thinking skills. Finally, Bentley has "Issues for Discussion" which detail background information on issues related to the chapter's material and require the teacher to use the information to formulate questions and/or activities for the students. If classroom discussion is important to you, then you would want to carefully analyze the particular approach taken by each textbook.

Are you the type of teacher who seeks outside resources and relies on your Instructor's Manual to steer you in the right direction in your search? If so, then look to Bentley for the most comprehensive bibliography of print resources, and Bulliet for print resources categorized by key topics in each chapter. Bentley also has a list of related videos, as do Stearns and Spodek.

Perhaps you prefer internet websites to explore and use as supplements. In that case, Bulliet and Spodek have lists for each chapter. On the other hand, if you rely heavily on primary source material strategies, then Bentley, Spodek, and Stearns will provide you with references to selections that are either available online, in bookstores, or in pre-packaged ancillaries from the publisher.

All of the textbooks are full of visual aids that assist teachers and students in understanding the content and concepts. These maps, charts, timelines, art objects, photographs, and sketches all help create a visual image for the learner. For teachers who find success with overhead projectors, Spodek and Stearns each have a large packet of transparencies available to accompany the texts, but the Stearns collection contains only maps while Spodek's collection is a combination of maps, charts, and graphic organizers.

For teachers who are looking for computer-based visual aids, Bentley, Bulliet, and Spielvogel each have available a CD-ROM with PowerPoint presentations, images, and video clips, but the content differs significantly. Bentley's PowerPoint is heavily laden with typed outlines of the chapter with no images except for a map or two. In contrast, Bulliet's PowerPoint has no text outlines; instead, it uses many captioned images of art objects and historical depictions along with maps for the teacher to intersperse in her classroom presentations. Spielvogel has a Multi-Media Manager CD-ROM with PowerPoint presentations to accompany five different world history textbooks that Thomson-Wadsworth publishes, along with visual images and CNN video clips that the accompanying user guide explains how to assemble into customized presentations for your classroom.

Many teachers also rely on publishers to provide test questions for each chapter. Each textbook has a CD-ROM test bank available for instructors. These test banks all allow teachers to customize their questions and randomize versions of the tests for better exam security. Even though these test banks all have many similar features, there are a few factors that are worth mentioning when trying to find a product that matches your teaching style. Bentley and Spielvogel include a master copy of the chapter test within their Instructor's Manuals. Bulliet and Spodek have separate test manuals available. All of these contain master tests that could be photocopied and used with students only with considerable touch-up work since the correct answers and page references to the text are included for each question. If you like a printed copy of the test to plan your instruction and write your chapter exam, then you'll like this feature, but in every case you will have to use the CD-ROM to actually print a copy for your students or to drop, add, or reorder questions.

If preparing your students for the AP Exam is critical for you, then you will want chapter tests that include five possible responses to multiple choice questions since that is the format used by the College Board. Bulliet, Spodek, and Stearns have only four responses to their multiple choice questions in their test banks, although there is space for teachers to insert their own fifth question. Bentley and Spielvogel both provide multiple choice questions with five possible responses.

Finally, all five textbooks have ancillary resources for students. What appeals to you is largely dependent on how you prefer to structure your classes and resources so that students will be successful, and that is based somewhat on matching their learning styles with your teaching style and resource material. Bentley and Stearns both have student study guide books that contain enhancement and review materials for each chapter. Bentley uses an outline approach while Stearns provides brief paragraph summaries for chapter sections. Both contain map exercises and a list of terms, people, and events for students to master as well as a chapter self-test, although Bentley has five response options to multiple choice questions while Stearns has only four. Stearns has a timeline review activity, and Bentley includes a sequencing module in the chapter's self-test. Bentley includes a quotations module in the self-test, and Stearns provides summary essay questions to check for understanding on the major conclusions of the chapter. Bentley prefers a "Connections" exercise where pairs of people, terms, or events are placed in juxtaposition for the student to determine the relationship.

Meanwhile, all the textbooks offer websites for students that contain various resources, such as chapter review questions, web links to sites related to content, primary resources, interactive maps, timelines, and glossaries. Each website has a different look and feel to it, so teachers who are selecting textbooks are advised to use a focus group of students to review the student websites for textbooks under consideration.

In conclusion, selecting a textbook without careful review of the ancillary materials available for teachers and students is ill-advised in this age of educational diversity. While the names of available ancillary resources may be similar (e.g., Instructor's Manuals, accompanying CD-ROM, overhead transparencies, student websites), teachers need to be aware that the approaches used by each publisher differ vastly and could allow you to capitalize on your strengths or force you to endure years of being tied to less effective strategies for you and your students. The strength of our AP teachers is their combination of creativity and fortitude which results in successful classrooms with individual success, and ancillary resources should be selected which enhance these efforts for the benefit of AP students and schools everywhere.


1. Full publication information for all ancillaries reviewed are as follows: Jerry Bentley and Herbert Ziegler, Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past, third edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006); Richard Bulliet et al., The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, third edition (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005); William Duiker and Jackson Spielvogel, World History, fourth edition (Thomson-Wadsworth, 2004); Howard Spodek, The World's History, third edition (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006); Peter Stearns et al., World Civilizations: The Global Experience, fourth edition (Pearson Longman, 2004).

This article was originally presented online at World History Connected Vol. 3, Issue 2. The online journal World History Connected is partially supported by the College Board and published in association with the History Cooperative. Copyright © 2005 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Reproduced here with permission.

World History Connected

History Cooperative

Valerie Cox teaches AP World History at Appleton West High School in Appleton, Wisconsin. She is a College Board consultant, and is a mentor for recipients of the College Board AP Start‑Up Grant. She is also a Reader for the AP World History Exam.