Faculty Focus: Affordable Learning Project

Scholarly Communication Librarian Talea Anderson was recently awarded the Student Success Seed Grant to conduct her research on the Affordable Learning Project. The research surrounding this project was designed to make course materials more affordable for students and, therefore, to support their success in courses at WSU.


The project had two main components: an open textbook reviewing workshop and small grant stipends for faculty members to create, adapt, or adopt open educational resources (OERs) in their courses. As a whole, the project was assessed on a) reduction in cost of course materials and b) student learning outcomes.

Seventeen faculty members applied for grants, and awards of $5,000 per course went to five faculty members. Each grant recipient worked with a team from WSU Libraries and Academic Outreach and Innovation to locate OERs or low-cost materials, adapt or adopt these materials, and/or create content for students.

Students enrolled in the classes that used OERs saw the cost of course materials drop from an average of more than $150 to $0. The Affordable Learning Project saved 2,285 students an estimated $228,500 in fall 2017 and spring 2018 alone. When surveyed about the quality of OERs, 96 percent of students indicated that they regarded the OERs to be of the same or better quality than commercial resources.

A faculty member summed up the project by stating, “The greatest appeal of the OER is the ability to update it at will. There is no need for lengthy production times, increased cost for students of a new edition, having to massively change course curriculum, etc. I can literally make a change on the spot and it is good for everyone.”