This blog post was written by Alexis Erum and Jay Baker, OER Leads at Kauai Community College
Kauai Community College is actively reducing textbooks costs by many methods. Faculty at Kaua'i Community College have long acknowledged that the cost of course materials is a barrier to education for our students. In fact, some faculty have been working on this issue since the Fall semester of 1982, indicating a long-term commitment to the overarching institutional mission of increasing access to higher education through the reduction of costs
In November 2017, the faculty committee, the Learning Resources Committee, convened for the first time under the charter and bylaws approved by the Faculty Senate. The Charter outlines the four main purposes and functions of the Committee:
- Advocate for student access to low cost or no cost learning resources
- Maintain a learning resources repository for the campus
- Foster the development of educational resources by college faculty
- Other purposes and functions related to learning resources as delegated by the Faculty Senate.
At that time, the Learning Resources Committee undertook the UHCC OER initiative on campus to reduce the cost of higher education and increase student success through the adoption of open educational resources (OER). In fiscal year 2017/18, we had a faculty trainer, Billy Meinke, visit Kaua'i CC to teach a professional development workshop “Open Educational Resources (OER) – low cost (or zero cost) textbooks for students” Training. Six faculty stipends were awarded in history, math, english, Hawaiian language and biology. In fiscal year 2018/19, two faculty, math and a librarian, traveled to the OpenEd Conference. An OER Campus Conversation occurred in January 2019 with good attendance. Spring 2019 plans include Professional Development: Faculty Trainer and Faculty Speaker, OTN Textbook Review Stipend, Faculty Travel Stipends for Cross-Institutional OER Work, Four Faculty Stipends to develop or adopt OER in curriculum, Student Representative Stipend and Professional Development: OTN Summer Institute Conference Travel.
In December 2018, a faculty survey was disseminated to gather information about the various and ongoing efforts across campus to reduce textbook costs for students. This survey gauged faculty awareness of textbook costs, methods for reducing textbook costs, implementation dates, student sentiments post-adoption, future interest in textbook alternatives, and possible barriers to OER adoption. The survey was completed by 48 faculty members.
- 93.8% of faculty reported awareness of the cost of textbooks in their courses for the Fall 2018 semester.
- 93.8% of faculty have used methods to reduce the cost of their textbooks.
- 42.2% agreed that students strongly liked the quality of reduced cost textbooks.
- 37.5% of faculty indicated interest and plans to reduce textbook costs in the upcoming Spring 2019 semester.
- Another 37.5% are interested and planning on reducing textbook costs during the upcoming Academic Year: 2019-2020.
- Faculty rated the top textbook alternatives worth considering as:
- Low or no cost textbooks: 58.3%
- Library ebooks: 37.5%
- Library databases: 31.3%
- Open access journals: 31.3%
- Faculty barriers to adopting low cost alternatives:
- Too time consuming: 47.9%
- Lack of release time: 47.9%
- Lack of access to supplemental online support materials: 39.6%
- Faculty are interested in learning more about and using these methods:
- Creating your own resource (OER): 52.1%
- Using pre-made free or open licensed resources (OER): 47.9%
The faculty survey included a section on adoption dates. There are 3 faculty who have been reducing costs for decades on this campus, starting in 1982. An additional 20 faculty members joined steadily throughout the past decade dating from Fall 2007-Fall 2016. However, the most dominant trend captured in this survey question is that Kauai Community College has seen rapid and widespread buy-in to these efforts in the past 2 academic years, with 19 more faculty adopting cost reduction methods.
Textbook cost reduction efforts have occurred in the following disciplines at KCC: Accounting (ACC), Anthropology (ANTH), Biology (BIOL), Economics (ECON), English (ENG), Hawaiian Language (HAW), History (HIST), Mathematics (MATH), Medical Assisting (MEDA), Nursing (NURS), Physics (PHYS), Science (SCI), Social Sciences (SSCI), and Sociology (SOC).
- Continue to incentivize and encourage faculty development and adoption of reduced cost textbooks, alongside wider recognition of various methods for achieving this goal.
- Development and adoption of assessment models to measure student outcomes and student sentiment towards reduced cost textbooks.
- Full-time Instructional Designer: Instructional designers analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate instruction. The other UH campuses have instructional designers working with faculty to develop OER materials.
- Tenure and Promotion: The inclusion of language recognizing textbook cost reduction efforts, one method of which is the adoption of open educational resources, as mechanisms of teaching innovation in the institution’s tenure and promotion guide.
- Library Availability: Make all textbooks available on reserve at the library. Improve and increase the number of textbooks on reserve at the library by methodically targeting the courses with the highest cost textbooks.