Providing ALL Students With the Tools for Success
Textbook costs are forcing many of our students to make decisions that compromise their academic success. Major studies show that 66.6% of students do not purchase the required textbook. Because of this:
37.6% earn a poor grade
19.8% fail a course
47.6% take fewer courses
45.5% do not register for a course
26.1% drop a course
20.7% withdraw from courses
Tennessee is leading the nation in college access and student success initiatives through its suite of Drive to 55 programs, such as TN Promise and TN Reconnect. However, textbook costs continue to be a barrier to student learning and equitable access.
As part of a statewide, broad-based response to this challenge, TBR launched the Digital Engagement Initiative employing an inclusive access (IA) model to offer electronic course materials to students during the spring 2019 term. The purpose of the project is to:
The Tennessee Board of Regents seeks to provide persons with disabilities the opportunity to use instructional materials and technologies that allow them to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as persons without disabilities in an equally effective and equally integrated manner and with substantially equivalent ease of use.
The Digital Engagement Initiative (DEI) is working to reduce the financial and access barriers often associated with textbooks, resulting in increased quality and functionality of the student experience for those working towards obtaining their educational goals. The accessibility of these digital materials is a critical element in the success of our students in that it magnifies DEI’s purpose in reducing barriers for all students.
Digital Engagement Initiative – Phase II
Creating a Digital Campus Culture
Building on the successful inclusive access model in DEI Phase I, TBR is now setting sights on system-wide use of Open Educational Resources.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation defines Open Educational Resources (OER) as “…teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”
A useful way to appreciate the value of OER is to understand what you, the user of openly licensed content, are allowed to do with it. These permissions are granted in advance, and are legally established through Public Domain or Creative Commons copyrights:
This material is adapted from original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at http://opencontent.org/definition/.
The TBR Community Colleges are part of the Achieving the Dream Network, a national reform movement for student success, created in 2004 to help community colleges close academic achievement gaps for low-income and minority students and assist all students achieve their goals of academic success and economic opportunity.
DEI is designed to address some of the same barriers to access, quality, and success that defines the ATD mission. Modeled after the Achieving the Dream (ATD) OER Degree Initiative, TBR is pursuing an zero-textbook-cost degree (z-degree), which coupled with TN Promise and TN Reconnect, would greatly reduce the cost of attendance at TBR colleges. DEI is not only about affordability, but prioritizes faculty/student engagement and pedagogical innovation.
TBR’s Office of Policy and Strategy developed a model for assessing the DEI pilot and scale-up. This assessment utilized surveys and information from TBR’s student information system, including student enrollment and course data. Additionally, the Policy and Strategy team engaged campus Institutional Research and Effectiveness offices to coordinate the assessment with existing processes as the IR offices have the infrastructure and expertise to deploy surveys, track the assessment of student learning outcomes, and communicate with faculty about the assessment process. This assessment also incorporated data from Follett (TBR’s bookstore contractor) about the adoption, costs, and utilization of textbooks and course materials.
Griffiths, R., Mislevy, J., Wang, S., Ball, A., Shear, L., Desrochers, D. (2020). OER at Scale: The Academic and Economic Outcomes of Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.Colvard, N., Watson, E., Park, H (2018). The impact of open educational resources on various student success metrics. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(2), 262-276.
Textbook Affordability and OER is a national movement. Below are some examples of states and institutions that are making student materials affordable:
Some organizations that provide resources for faculty who are interested in using OER:
With 100 participants
With 150 participants
A 14-member faculty leadership team (1 from each pilot course) was selected from among the participating faculty based on interest and experience in the digital textbook environment. The FLT supported the DEI development and launch by communicating with campus faculty groups (faculty senates, curriculum committees, faculty sub-council), facilitating content and pedagogical best practices, and developing seminar training activities.
TBR launched the DEI pilot in all 13 Community Colleges and 18 Technical Colleges. Over 100 faculty volunteered to participate, using textbooks they selected, and more than 4,500 students registered for the high-enrollment courses in the pilot. More than a third of the community college participants were low-income students, and almost a quarter were adults over age 25. In the pilot term, students saved $548,000.00 over standard retail price for their textbooks.
The pilot included the following 7 high-enrollment technical college programs and 7 high-enrollment community college courses:
Machine Tool Technology
Administrative Office Tech.
Computer Information Tech
Collision Repair Tech.
|ENGL1020 - Composition II
PSYC 1030 - Introduction to Psychology
COMM 2025 - Fundamentals of Communication
HIST 2010 - Early U.S. History
BIOL 2010 - Human Anatomy & Physiology
MUS 1030 - Introduction to Music
INFS 1010 - Computer Applications
During the first scale-up year 2019-2020 academic year, the Digital Engagement Initiative saved students over $10 million in textbook costs through approximately 63,000 course enrollments.
Due to the pilot’s overwhelming success, Chancellor Tydings gave the green light to expand the opportunity to all colleges and all faculty in the System.
The faculty and staff at all 40 TBR colleges have worked to make DEI a reality for students on their campuses. Any initiative on this magnitude requires collaboration from faculty organizations, advisors, registrars, IT personnel, administrators, IE/IR teams, and academic and student affairs administrators. At the System level, leadership has been provided by the DEI Strategy Team:
Jonathan Calisi, Deputy Chief Information Officer
Dr. Russ Deaton, Executive Vice Chancellor for Policy & Strategy
Dr. Robert M. Denn, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Angela Flynn, Associate Vice Chancellor for Procurement, Contracts, and Payment Services
Danny Gibbs, Vice Chancellor for Business & Finance
Dr. Lana Hamilton, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Dr. Tachaka Hollins, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Lindsey Koch, Research Analyst
Dr. Heidi Leming, Vice Chancellor for Student Success
Dr. Kim McCormick, Vice Chancellor for External Affairs
Dr. Amy Moreland, Director of Policy
Dr. Nicola Wayer, Director of Training & Instructional Design
Kristina Krau Waymire, Director of Student Initiatives
Teresa Workman, Senior Technical Consultant
Digital Engagement Initiative supports the following TBR Strategic Priorities:
TBR is a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission Textbook Affordability Task Force
For more information about DEI, please contact:
Robert M. Denn, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs