A better grasp on textbook material

photo of two hands holding an iPad with books image

txtbook teaser.jpgIn large-enrollment courses, Franklin faculty continue to be instrumental in pioneering access to free, online textbooks to help students save money and to improve teaching:

The University System of Georgia (USG) has been a nationwide leader in using free online textbooks, and UGA has been at the forefront of those efforts, helping its students save more than $2.5 million since 2013. The bulk of that effort has come through a partnership with nonprofit publisher OpenStax.

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Peggy Brickman, a professor of plant biology, and her colleagues teach general education biology courses taken by nearly 2,000 students a year. When she adopted an OpenStax textbook in 2013, CTL used a grant to fund a graduate assistant who worked with Brickman to redesign her course. It was an opportunity for Brickman to rethink how to best teach the course, and students have been thanking her ever since.

"It has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars for students," Brickman said, "and the course is much better after we redesigned it."

The commitment of Brickman and other faculty members to pilot the use of these textbooks has not only benefitted UGA students; it's also paving the way for other institutions across the nation to follow.

Jim Coverdill, Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Sociology, is partnering with OpenStax to test the effectiveness of free supplementary software. The software, which includes interactive quizzes students take while they're reading, is designed to help students retain what they're learning. So far, Coverdill says, it's working remarkably well.

Important efforts by our faculty that improve performance on both sides of the classroom, with better outcomes that save students money. That is very effective engagement with teaching and learning.