Customer Review

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I have to teach from this book. Bleah!!!, July 19, 2010
This review is from: Precalculus Functions and Graphs: A Graphing Approach 5th Edition (Hardcover)
Our local community college adopts a pre-calculus text for all sections of a 2-sequence course in pre-calculus, so as an instructor, I must use what the department chooses.

I've campaigned for the last two edition changes to switch to the text from Hornsby, Lial and Rockwood, but to no avail. It seems that even mathematicians dislike change. If you are considering adopting a text, I strongly suggest you look harder at that one.

My reasons for disliking this book:

1. It's chaotic. Homework problems don't match what's in the lesson. Sometimes they belong with a later section. Problem sets can be endlessly redundant, and then some don't give enough practice for mastery.

2. There are errors, that seem to multiply with subsequent editions. For example, on page 323 the technology tip suggests that the values of inverse trig functions are always in radians. But my calculator is quite happy to do them in degrees.

3. Explanations are brief, or sometimes just missing. Section 5.3 on solving equations with trig expressions does one without a restricted domain, then restricts the domain in the next problem, and doesn't really explain that the two types of responses could be given for the same problem. Also in this section are problems requiring a quadratic approach (factoring), but not using the quadratic formula. Why not?

4. The solutions manual appears to have been written by about four grad students. Consecutive problems can have solutions worked quite differently.

5. As an instructor, my copy of the book does not have the answers on the page. I really don't want to go rummaging for them in the back of the book, especially since the headers for each section are not at the top of every page. If answers for a lesson run onto several pages, you have to flip forwards or back until you find the start of the next lesson.

6. As an instructor, I was told that artwork and graphics for the book are downloadable. Not very many! I want to create slides that look like what's in the book, and then talk about them. It would be nice to copy and paste the calculator screen shots, but it's not to be! Online support just isn't what it was promoted to be.

7. Inequalities are ABSENT from this book. They are side-by-side in the Lial, Hornsby, Rockwood book.

I've used the 1998 edition of the Lial, Hornsby, Rockwood text from Addison-Wesley since 1999 with homeschooled kids. I learn something from that book every time I open it. Students don't call for help when using that book, because the explanations are adequate. I found an examination copy of the current edition on a bookshelf at the college where I also teach, and I prepare my teaching notes from that and often borrow problems from it. That book has improved with age! The Houghton-Mifflin book frustrates me to no end.

A word to publishers, if you are actually reading this: The price of these texts is too high, and the three-year cycle of new editions is clearly a scam. We who teach at the local colleges hate it. I strongly suggest that for situations like mine, where the department adopts a text, that you offer to charge $20 per student when they register, and then allow the student to get the book electronically. You could update or correct the book at any time, you don't have to spend money to print and ship, and there's no buy back program necessary. The iPad is a perfect tool for delivering this.
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