WMU Libraries awards 10 grants to help reduce textbook costs for students

Contact: Sara Volmering

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The University Libraries has awarded seven Open Educational Resources (OER) adoption grants and three OER creation grants to WMU instructors in December. The grants are anticipated to save students in 10 courses over $170,000 in textbook costs in based on course enrollments.

The OER adoption grants support WMU instructors in switching from a commercial textbook to free, high-quality online resources. The creation grants support faculty in developing new OER materials that will be used in their courses and made available to instructors and students globally.

Open Educational Resources are openly licensed teaching and learning resources that are free to access, use, adapt and redistribute.

Western students in courses funded by the OER grants have saved an estimated $1.3 million in textbook costs since the grants launched in 2019.

“We are pleased to see that instructors are continuing to understand the value of open textbooks for themselves and their students,” says Michele Behr, scholarly communications and OER librarian.

“The financial savings are a huge benefit to students,” Behr adds. “Instructors and students both report an increase in student achievement since open textbooks mean students always have access to the textbook.”

Textbook costs can impact student stress levels, behavior and academic performance. It affects some students more, including first-generation students, students receiving financial aid and Latinx students, according to a report from the American Association of Colleges and Universities.

Western students taking a course with a grant-funded OER textbook expressed appreciation for the ease of access and financial relief.

"I remember feeling so relieved at the beginning of the semester when I found out that I did not have to buy a textbook,” shared one student in a post-course OER survey. “It makes me feel like the professor truly cares about their students and wants everyone to succeed, not just the students who can afford the textbook. I know that there are cheap options out there, such as renting, but sometimes finding and buying the right textbooks can be a huge stressor."

Visit the Libraries’ webpage to learn more about OER and future grant opportunities for WMU instructors.

Fall 2023 OER Grant Recipients

Creation Grant

  • Marie Moreno, BCM 4540

  • Dr. Xiaojun Wang, CHIN 1010

  • Amy Zufelt, BCM 3700

Adoption Grant

  • Dr. Chad Edwards, COM 4710

  • Dr. Alvis Fong, CS 5821

  • Dr. Lusike Mukhongo, COM 3410

  • Dr. Wuwei Shen, CS 4910

  • Dr. Chitra Singh, FCS 300

  • Katherine Suender, ED 2500

  • Dr. Li Yang, GEOG 2560

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