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CSU Affordability Advocates

A guide to highlight the amazing course material affordability champions on our campus.

Affordability Advocate

Shawn Ryan

Shawn Ryan

Associate Professor

Mathematics Department

Course: MTH 288 - Linear Algebra

Annual student savings: $22,200



Faculty Winner’s Impressions:

Why did you decide to apply for the Textbook Affordability Grant?

College textbook cost has been a primary issue for students for as long as I can remember.  During my own student days, I was worried about the hefty bookstore bill.  So when I found open textbook options that had been peer-reviewed and were of high quality, I wanted to do my part to lessen the burden for my students.  I was then notified of this Textbook Affordability Grant opportunity to incorporate an open textbook in my class with the support of the library staff to aid in the transition.  With the support, I determined it was very low risk to transition my Linear Algebra course to the open textbook model.

How did the project process go? What advice do you have for other faculty considering applying for a Textbook Affordability Grant?

The project went better than expected. I wanted to incorporate an open textbook, at first, just to save students money.  When I found open homework options to pair with the textbook in a new learning format called module-based learning I was excited.  This format breaks course topics into small daily lessons that are paired with carefully selected homework problems and book sections.  This led to enhanced organizational structure in the course for the students.  I enjoyed the entire grant process from meeting with the open textbook team to bounce ideas off of as well as their support through available resources to supplement the course material.  I recommend anyone thinking about using an open textbook to go through the short grant application process.

What were the results of your project on student engagement and academic achievement?

The results were better than anyone expected.  When compared to control courses offered during the same semester, the course with module-based learning and an open textbook produced more A’s and B’s while reducing the failure rate significantly.  In fact CSU librarian T. Nawalaniec and myself have submitted the results of our study for publication in a Math Education journal.  After completion of an exit survey, students reported that they enjoyed this format and having the free textbook with them wherever they go through Blackboard and mobile apps.  They also found that having the book from Day 1 without ordering was a major factor in getting off to a great start in the course.