Aren't They All the Same: A Critical Comparison of Available Introduction to Criminal Justice Textbooks and Materials

Brian L. Withrow, Whichita State University

Within the last decade the number of textbooks available for adoption and use in Introduction to Criminal Justice courses and the number of students enrolled in these classes have increased substantially. Because of this the competition among publishers is intense. The publishers have become highly responsive to the needs of instructors and students by providing numerous ancillary materials and web support. A few even offer multiple texts and special focus bundling options. The purpose of this research is to critically compare and contrast the available textbooks within three dimensions - the depth and balance of their scholarship, the learning aids available to students, and the pedagogical materials available to instructors. The research however does not attempt to rank order the textbooks. The analysis reveals that, while the available textbooks are relatively consistent within the three evaluative dimensions, there are important differences among them. These differences are potentially important to instructors within the contexts of their individual teaching objectives or institutional demands.

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Updated 05/20/2006