The Ohio State University at Mansfield


Psychology Professor Writes Textbook to Help Students Succeed

Mansfield, OH – For the last 15 years, The Ohio State University at Mansfield Associate Professor of Psychology Dennis Shaffer has watched students struggle with how to pay for textbooks while balancing the many other responsibilities they have in life. He decided he did not want to sit by and watch that struggle anymore. That is why Shaffer is leading an effort on campus to do something about it.

“You can see all the things students go through in balancing life,” said Shaffer. “Some are single parents and are trying to balance their personal life with their academics and their work life. It is a lot for them. So, if I can ease the burden just a little bit, it’s worth it.”

Shaffer decided to write his own book for his statistics class. He distributes the pages to students, so they do not have to spend the money on purchasing a textbook for his class.

“At Ohio State Mansfield, we have a lot of students who are first generation students and when they start college, they often have no idea how expensive textbooks can be. We also have students who are working full-time jobs, trying to put themselves through
school while supporting their family,” said Shaffer. “After I heard how much students were spending on textbooks, I became inspired.”

Nearly 40% of the new first year students on the Mansfield campus in Autumn Semester 2017 were first generation college students. That means they are the first person in their family to attend college.

While students are appreciative of the cost savings, Shaffer has found that there is an additional student success benefit to writing his own text for this class.

“It also helps with student comprehension of the material because I can write things in my own words, and there isn’t going to be a difference between how someone else would write a textbook and how I would teach the material in class.”

Shaffer started on the Mansfield campus in 2003 and supports student success inside the classroom and out. He gives undergraduate students the opportunity to help him conduct research. The primary focus of Shaffer’s research is the study of visual motion perception. He attempts to understand the perceptual strategies humans (and in some cases animals) use to navigate in their environment, judge the size and trajectory of motion of objects in their environment, and control anticipatory and attentional eye movements to moving targets. Shaffer and several of his students appeared on the Science Channel’s show “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman” in 2012.

“I am passionate about helping our students succeed and reach their goals,” said Shaffer. “That’s why I am looking to write textbooks for other classes I teach in the future.” Shaffer teachers General Psychology, Sensation and Perception, Learning and Memory and Statistics.

The Ohio State University at Mansfield offers an academic environment that’s challenging but supportive as students become part of an academic tradition that leads the way in shaping tomorrow’s world. Students discover world-class teaching minds passionate about connecting to other disciplines while discovering new ways to see the world. With access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors, Ohio State Mansfield is where learning comes to life. Research, education abroad and service learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected.