Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.49
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Dec. 17, 2020

STARS v2.2

Pennsylvania State University
IN-41: Textbook Affordability

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution host a peer-to-peer textbook exchange program, textbook lending library, or alternate textbook project?:

A brief description of the textbook exchange program, textbook lending library, or alternate textbook project:

Penn State’s novel, combined approach to lowering textbook costs has been through the use of both freely open and affordable, or low-cost, resources. These strategic efforts by University Libraries faculty and staff over the past three years have been estimated to save students $4.8 million in potential costs to date.

A Libraries-licensed e-textbook pilot program for World Campus courses was initiated in fall 2017. Through the fall 2019 semester, 355 e-books replaced traditional textbooks and were made available for 296 World Campus courses for an overall online student potential cost savings of $3,277,637. These e-books have been placed into the University Libraries’ catalog for unlimited perpetual use, so residential course instructors and individual students also are able to access them.

During the 2018-19 year, the e-textbook pilot expanded to include residential courses from the College of Information Sciences and Technology and the College of Engineering. While the first pilot program among University Park campus engineering students alone included only 35 e-books among 13 courses, the total potential savings those e-books provided to students exceeded $266,560.

The Affordable Course Transformation (ACT) program, which will launch its third round of projects in Fall 2020, already has helped instructors of 30 courses across 15 campuses either author or adapt course materials for classes in 19 subjects. Once this material has been created, future instructors can access and adapt it for their own instructional needs and for students’ access. An estimate of potential cost savings to students for this initiative alone exceeds $1,177,700.

Does the institution provide incentives for academic staff that explicitly encourage the authorship, peer review, and/or adoption of open access textbooks?:

A brief description of the incentives to encourage the authorship, peer review, and/or adoption of open access textbooks:

Faculty development through the Affordable Course Transformation (ACT), a grant-based program, led by University Libraries and Teaching and Learning with Technology, helps support instructors in replacing high-cost published course material with “pedagogically sound open and affordable” content. ACT assists faculty in making materials available at no cost to students or for under $50.

In addition, faculty have greater access to open content online that they can revise and excerpt as they see fit to tailor their instructional content, giving them the flexibility to design lessons and assignments and embed content best suited to their teaching approach and environment. This adaptability of content has opened up the potential for new and cutting-edge approaches to instruction and learning.

University Libraries has established a website that provides faculty with information on Open Educational Resources (OER), including sections on how to "evaluate, adopt, and adapt" OER, and "author, license, and share" OER. See website URL below.

Website URL where information about the textbook affordability incentives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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