Textbook Equity Mini-Grant Program to save UNI students $64,000 a year

Textbook Equity Mini-Grant Program to save UNI students $64,000 a year

Rod Library

To reinforce its commitment to keeping the cost of a quality education affordable, the University of Northern Iowa has continued to grow its textbook equity initiative. Most recently, UNI announced the winners of its Mini-Grant Program, which will create five free, openly-licensed textbooks that will be used in one or more UNI courses and are expected to save UNI students more than $64,000 a year. This is on top of the $400,000 a year the initiative has already saved students due to open textbook adoptions.

The grant funding provides training and support for faculty adoption, writing and/or remixing of open textbooks or other materials to replace expensive, traditional textbooks. 

“Students who can access free/affordable course materials can do better academically, take more courses and be on a level playing field with their peers when it comes to their learning,” said Anne Marie Gruber, associate professor of library services and liaison & textbook equity librarian. “The textbooks resulting from the Mini-Grant will showcase UNI faculty members' effective teaching methods by creatively engaging students, incorporating current content that is easy to update and embracing diversity of representation.”

In addition to the cost savings, these new textbooks are expected to decrease course withdrawals, increase accessibility of course materials and increase the representation of diversity, equity and inclusion within the texts compared to the commercial texts they will replace. 

The five winning projects will create textbooks for the following courses:

  • Elements of Creative Writing
  • Current and Emerging Issues in Public Administration
  • Media and Power
  • Introduction to Social Work Research and Advanced Social Work Research (graduate courses)
  • Technology in Language Education

Nine faculty members from across campus will be authoring these five textbooks. Each openly-licensed textbook takes a unique teaching approach to course content. 

The importance of affordable textbooks at UNI can easily be seen through the results of a spring 2021 survey (n=688) that polled UNI students and found respondents reported: 

  • 61% share books
  • 48% avoid purchasing required texts
  • 29% change sections or avoid registering for a specific course/section due to textbook costs
  • 23% have earned a poor or failing grade due to textbook costs
  • 19% have dropped a course or taken fewer courses due to textbook costs

Because these open educational resources are likely to be adopted by other institutions, their impact and cost savings go beyond UNI. This project is supported by one-time funding from the Provost’s Office with financial and administrative support from the Rod Library Dean’s Office.

Anne Marie Gruber, liaison and textbook equity librarian, (319) 273-3711, anne.gruber@uni.edu