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A Closer Look at How AMP Initiatives Impact the Cost of College Textbooks

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!

 


face shot of business librarian

Linda Hauck, MLS, MBA, is the Business Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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OER Textbooks: Perfect for the Age of COVID-19

Shortly after COVID-19 forced the shift to all online instruction, the library fielded a number of urgent student requests for help accessing electronic versions of their textbooks.  Some students may not have taken their textbooks home, but many were without because they shared textbooks or relied on print reserves.  Sadly librarians couldn’t be of much help because commercial textbook publishers fiercely protect their revenue streams. They only license electronic versions of their textbooks to students, not to libraries for sharing.

A few students benefited from free access to textbooks offered by VitalSource and RedShelf, commercial digital content providers. But many titles aren’t included in these temporary offerings.  Students had to scramble to find the money to rent electronic textbooks.

As this unprecedented semester concludes and faculty reflect on course materials selections, it is a perfect occasion to consider alternatives to commercial textbooks. Open textbooks are available online for free in multiple formats, are accessible, and have Creative Commons licenses that enable use and remixing without requesting special permission.

OER Commons and Open Textbook Library are tools for finding OER listed on our database A-Z page and on our OER guide. OER Commons is a search tool for a curated list of learning objects that are openly licensed. It includes not only textbooks but assignments, lesson plans and simulations. Open Textbook Library is a discovery tool for textbooks in use at multiple colleges or universities or which have been published by recognized scholarly societies. Some of these textbooks are reviewed and come with instructor materials.

Finding alternatives to commercial textbooks can be time consuming. Enlist the aide of your liaison librarian or use the OER help form.  Tell us about your current textbook or describe your ideal, and we’ll supply you with OER options.

The Office of the Provost in partnership with the Affordable Materials Project (AMP) is happy to announce the Open Educational Resources (OER) Faculty Adoption Grant, which is designed to encourage faculty to select free, openly licensed textbooks as primary course materials. This pilot grant program will award up to five grants in the amount of $1,000 to faculty members who adopt an OER textbook as the primary learning material for a new or existing course that they expect to teach during 2020-21 academic year. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

 


face shot of business librarian

Linda Hauck, MLS, MBA, is Business Librarian for Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 


 


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Foto Friday: Falvey Celebrates Open Education Week With Fuel For Midterms

By Kallie Stahl 

Michael Foight, Director of Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement, details the Affordable Materials Project (AMP) to current Villanova students.

Michael Foight, Director of Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement, details the Affordable Materials Project (AMP) to current Villanova students. Photo courtesy of Shawn Proctor, Communication and Marketing Program Manager.

Celebrating Open Education Week, Falvey Memorial Library hosted an information table February 25, 26, and 27, raising awareness about the potential benefits open educational resources (OER) and the Affordable Material Project (AMP) can bring to students struggling with textbook costs. Library staff provided Villanova students and faculty various options for obtaining affordable course materials. Students were treated to healthy snacks (and sugary treats) to help with late-night midterm study sessions in Falvey.

Founded in 2013, Open Education Week aims to raise awareness and showcase impact of open education on teaching and learning worldwide. AMP is a university-wide collaboration between the bookstore, Falvey Library, CASA, and the Office of the Provost, all working together to address one of the most pressing issues students face today — high and rising costs of course materials.


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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Last Modified: February 28, 2020