Alternatives to exspensive textbooks

Courtney Kerrigan

Faculty is rewarded for picking cheap texts

Buying textbooks can get expensive, but the Ohio Board of Regents offers one way to reduce the burden for students: reward faculty who ask for affordable course materials.

Each year, 10 faculty members at institutions of the University System of Ohio receive $1,000 awards to put toward selecting budget-conscious materials for their courses, said Rob Evans, Board of Regents administrative assistant of communications.

“We have to recognize those faculty members that are making students’ costs a priority,” Evans said. He added that a common complaint the Board receives from parents and students is the rising costs of textbooks.

As the creator of the incentives, Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut said the Faculty Innovator Awards recognize and support faculty who create course materials themselves or use materials that are readily available, such as technological resources.“We feel that one of the solutions to the cost is faculty members taking greater initiative to think about the cost of the materials they’re requiring their students to spend,” Fingerhut said.

The awards started in 2009 and recognized faculty from higher education institutions such as Ohio State University, Miami University, Bowling Green State University and Ohio University.

Many of the faculty members took their course materials and made them available free online for students.

“I see the world of digital resources just expanding globally, and we have already been a part of that here in Ohio,” said Sheryl Hansen, Board of Regents Director of Academic Quality Assurance and Collaborations.

No faculty members from Kent State have received the award yet, but the Board of Regents invites and encourages students to nominate their professors and staff.

“If we give faculty these awards, the work will spread and give others an incentive to do the same,” Fingerhut said.

While the awards are very effective, Fingerhut said, the Textbook Affordability Grants are a second solution and different approach to reducing costs.

Through the grant program created in 2009, faculty members from some of Ohio’s public universities and community colleges were put into teams to create course materials and earned pay up front for their contribution, Fingerhut said.

Once finished and approved, the materials are offered free to students in the university system.

“I hope that students and faculty will become very aware that textbook costs is not an unchangeable situation — that they can be controlled and students will become better consumers,” Fingerhut said.

The Faculty Innovator Awards nomination forms are available here and are accepted until Feb. 15.

Contact student finance reporter Courtney Kerrigan at [email protected].