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Estimated Savings from Rutgers Open and Affordable Textbooks Program Tops $2.1 Million in its Second Year

February 23, 2018
Kimberlee Moran

Kimberlee Moran, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at Rutgers–Camden, will use her OAT award to incorporate multiple media platforms into her Forensic Science Methods & Techniques course. Photo: Katherine Blair, CCAS Dean's Office

Rutgers University Libraries is pleased to announce the 2017 Open and Affordable Textbooks (OAT) Program will save 3,474 students an estimated $565,989.00 in textbook costs.

The OAT Program, initiated at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey by President Robert Barchi in 2016, is combatting soaring textbook costs and reducing barriers to student success by providing awards to Rutgers faculty who are willing to switch high-cost textbooks with low- and no-cost course materials. Students at Rutgers spend an average of $1,500.00 per year on textbooks and, according to national research by Open Textbook Network and Student PIRGS, two-thirds of students report not buying a required textbook because of cost. This has serious implications for academic performance and retention/graduation rates.

With the OAT Program, Rutgers is taking steps to insure that more students can freely access the course materials they need to succeed. These changes can take many forms—some faculty plan to use existing open source textbooks or to collect peer-reviewed materials like e-books, journals, and streaming media that are already available via the Libraries; others plan to use the funds to write their own materials. Kimberlee Moran, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at Rutgers University–Camden intends to use multiple media platforms to create an immersive experience in the course Forensic Science Methods & Techniques and to improve the student experience.

“In this course, students are introduced to a different forensic method each week. Topics range from fingerprinting, to ballistics, to pathology, and touch on all the major sciences,” explains Moran. “We move at a fast pace, so it is critical that students complete assigned readings.”

Moran hopes that a shift from printed materials to fully digitized Open Educational Resources (OERs) will improve student outcomes by providing easy, free access to assignments. She plans to assign topical articles that keep pace with real-world trends and developments in forensic science and to fill a gap in the existing literature by developing short modular videos to demonstrate methods and concepts.

“This award will allow me to use multiple media platforms to create new course materials in areas that don’t already have OERs readily available. Hopefully this will help students, at Rutgers and elsewhere, achieve greater success in their forensic science courses.”

This year, the Libraries received additional support from the Camden College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS), Rutgers University–Camden. CCAS funded eight $500.00 grants, greatly expanding the reach and the impact of the OAT Program and generating an estimated $36,965.00 in additional savings. We also extend special thanks to Rutgers University alumni William P. Keane and Rebecca A. Keane for their generous sponsorship of an award.

For more on this story, visit Rutgers Today.