By Linda Hauck
Course materials are a small portion of total student costs, but they are a piece that faculty and support staff can positively impact. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of college textbooks has increased 87.5% between 2006 and 2016.
The Affordable Materials Project (AMP) is equipping students and faculty with strategies for making course materials more affordable. This is no small contribution given that Villanova students spend on average $940 on textbooks.
Downward pressures on the cost of college course materials are showing up in the numbers. According to the National Association of College Stores, student spending on course materials has declined 41% between 2007 and 2019.
However, this may not be cause for celebration. A US PIRG study, Fixing the Broken Textbook Market 2nd ed, reports that “two-thirds of students skip buying the assigned textbooks” and almost one fifth of students “skip buying access codes necessary to complete assignments.” These behaviors adversely impact academic achievement and student’s general well-being.
The AMP book-matching initiative is a collaboration between the University Shop and Falvey Memorial Library. The University Shop shares the list of faculty assigned books with the Library. The library matches required books to ebooks in our collection with unlimited simultaneous users and identifies additional titles that the library can license. In five short semesters, from spring 2018 to spring 2020, this program has realized a cumulative potential savings for students of over $718,000. The cumulative library cost was less than $43,000. That is a 1670% return on investment!
We are hopeful that the OER Faculty Adoption Grant, the most recent AMP effort generously funded by the Associate Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning, will run up equally impressive numbers. This year 5 grants of $1000 will be awarded to faculty who revise or design a course around using open educational resources, which are entirely free for students to use and may be revised to suit educational goals. We look forward to calculating the student savings this investment will bring!
Linda Hauck, MLS, MBA, is the Business Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.