Libraries awards 10 grants to reduce students' out-of-pocket textbook costs

Contact: Sara Volmering

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Western MIchigan University Libraries awarded eight Open Educational Resources (OER) adoption grants and two creation grants to WMU instructors in May 2022. The grants are anticipated to save students in 11 courses more than $91,000 in textbook costs in one semester based on course enrollments.

Western students have saved over $1.1 million in estimated textbook costs in 50 classes using an OER since the adoption grant launched in 2019. The OER adoption grants provide financial incentives and support for WMU instructors to switch to free, high-quality online resources rather than using a traditional textbook.

“The Libraries will continue to champion the adoption and creation of OER at WMU because it makes a difference in our students’ lives,” said Julie Garrison, dean of University Libraries. “We are investing in the future of education here at WMU and globally. The success of our grant program demonstrates that OER supports the academic success and resilience of our students.”

The Libraries now offer OER creation grants to provide financial assistance as WMU instructors create an OER for their courses. These newly-developed learning materials will be added to the existing library of OER freely available to teachers and students around the world.

"We have many faculty who have seen the benefits of OER for their students. But when they try to find an open text for their class, they find that nothing is available that fits their specific subject," says Michele Behr, scholarly communications and OER librarian. "There is a huge need to expand the options of OER to cover more subjects and therefore impact more students."

"Open textbooks developed at WMU will be shared widely for the benefit of students at other schools as well," Behr adds.

"The savings for students continues to grow," says Sara Volmering, marketing manager for University Libraries. "Every time an instructor repeats a course using an OER, a new group of students reaps the academic and financial benefits."

When money is tight, students make choices that can negatively impact their academic success. Florida Virtual Campus found textbook costs negatively impact student access to learning, resulting in students not purchasing a required textbook (64%), taking fewer courses (43%), not registering (40%), earning a poor grade (36%) and dropping a course (23%), according to FVC's 2018 report.

"OER are an affordable, equitable and sustainable resource," Volmering says. "Every student enrolled in the course has access to the learning materials from day one—not just the students that can afford it. Everyone has the resources needed to succeed. There's no physical waste because OER are available online, unlike traditional textbooks which can be updated and reprinted so frequently that older editions are rapidly obsolete and have no resale value."

Visit University Libraries' webpage to learn more about OER and future grant opportunities for Western instructors.

May 2022 OER Grant Recipients

Creation Grant

  • Dr. Leah Omilion-Hodges and Dr. Annette Hamel, COMM 3350–Leadership Communication
  • Dr. Mercedes Tubino-Blanco, SPAN 2000–Intermediate Spanish and SPAN 2010–Intermediate Spanish II

Adoption Grant

  • Dr. Jennifer Bott, MGMT 2500–Organizational Behavior
  • Kyle Jehnzen, AVS 3220–Global Navigational and International Flight Planning
  • Kyle Jehnzen and Jessica Birnbaum, AVS 2120–Aviation Meteorology
  • Dr. Robert Makin, ECE 3800–Probabilistic Methods of Signal and System Analysis
  • Dr. Tiffany Schriever, BIOS 5515–Wetland Ecology
  • Dr. Wuwei Shen, CS 4610–Reusable Software Architectures
  • Dr. Li Yang, GEOG 3100–Introduction to Tourism
  • Dr. Zee-Sun Yun, FCS 2050–Topics in Family and Consumer Sciences, Digital Retailing (spring 2023) and FCS 3290–Promotion in the Merchandising Environment (fall 2022)

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