Tarleton OER grants to save students money on textbooks, course materials

STEPHENVILLE (April 26, 2019) — Ten Tarleton State University faculty members were recently awarded grant funding to develop Open Educational Resource materials that will ultimately impact students by reducing textbook costs.

Dr. Karen Murray, provost and executive vice president for the Division of Academic Affairs, provided each recipient with a $1,000 grant to foster development of OER materials this summer for use in fall 2019 courses.

As reported in the grant applications, the OERs will impact several thousand Tarleton students, with a projected potential savings of nearly $250,000. OERs are teaching, learning and research elements available in the public domain or openly licensed so that anyone may legally copy, use, adapt and re-share them.

Local development of OERs is part of a larger movement to reduce the cost of textbooks and related course materials for college students following legislation approved by the Texas House of Representatives in 2017. It’s in line with proposed legislation in Austin during the ongoing 2019 session.

Increasingly a go-to strategy for lawmakers seeking to make college more affordable, OER legislation has been considered by nearly half of all U.S. states in recent years. The effort is spearheaded by the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition, a global body committed to the open sharing of educational materials to ease access to knowledge, accelerate discovery and increase the return on investment in research and education.

Last fall, Dr. Karl Aho, assistant professor of philosophy at Tarleton, was awarded one of 20 grants from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to adopt, modify, redesign or develop courses that use only OERs. Funds from the provost were earmarked to similarly expand the effort at Tarleton.

Tarleton faculty receiving grants:
• Dr. Thomas Faulkenberry – Psychological Sciences
• Dr. Rajesh Vuddandam – Engineering & Computer Science
• Dr. Dana Kay Manning – Curriculum & Instruction
• Casey Thompson, J.D. – Government, Legal Studies & Philosophy
• Dr. Atsuko Kawakami – History, Sociology & GIS
• Drs. Derrill Watson and Hari Katuwal – Accounting, Finance & Economics
• Drs. Jennifer Edwards, Karley Goen and Tracey Holley – Communication Studies

“OER is a relatively new path to save students money and enhance student success. For students at Tarleton that is extremely important,” said Associate Provost Dr. Diane Taylor. “With the distribution of these grants, Tarleton’s Center for Instructional Innovation and Tarleton libraries will promote OER, thus reducing the barriers students encounter in their pursuit of a higher education. I believe OER adoption can play an important part in improving student access, outcomes and overall success.”

Award funds can be used for OER development or to purchase materials/supplies. Funds may not be used to buy commercial electronic versions of textbooks, to rent textbooks, or for already adopted open textbooks. Grant money will be released upon receipt of a revised course syllabus for fall 2019.

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