Ohio University’s Textbook Initiative Task Force is collaborating with academic departments, faculty, and students to examine the most effective ways to manage and reduce the hefty price tag for course materials.
Since fall 2015 when the textbook initiative launched, the task force has been focused on expanding access and reducing costs through Open Educational Resource (OER) initiatives. They also are working with publishers to give students in large-enrollment courses instant access to digital content.
The task force set an ambitious goal in 2016: to save students $2 million in textbook and materials costs in three years. As of August 2018, the task force has reached the $2 million mark.
The task force secured two key partnerships and implemented a pilot program to offer students digital copies of their course materials.
One of the most successful programs in the first year of this plan was the creation of the Alt-Textbook Initiative, a collaboration between University Libraries and the Office of Instructional Innovation to incentivize faculty to use Open Educational Resources and library content instead of expensive materials. The task force also asked faculty to post textbook information earlier in the semester, enabling students to purchase materials at a lower price; engaged with departments and courses that use expensive materials to explore ways to reduce costs; and investigated partnerships with Amazon and bookstores to get course materials to students quickly and at discounted rates.
Efforts across the University led to students seeing $740,563 in textbook savings in 2017 and an additional $1,088,000 so far in 2018. These savings can be attributed to encouraging students to rent books instead of purchasing them, working with faculty to redesign courses through the Alt-Textbook Initiative, and collaborating with vendors such as Top Hat.
The information below includes specific strategies faculty can implement to work toward decreasing the cost of textbooks and materials, as well as actions faculty can share with their students.
According to OHIO’s Student Financial Aid and Scholarships office, students report spending over $1,000 per year on books.
According to a recent SPIRG report, 65 percent of students chose to go without textbooks for a class because they were too expensive even though a majority of them (94 percent) believed this would negatively impact their grade in that class. This study also found that high textbook costs can have a ripple effect on students’ other academic decisions: Nearly half of all students surveyed said that the price of textbooks affected how many and which classes they took each semester.