New Course Content Awards support free textbooks for five VCU courses

August 11, 2023

Five faculty projects have been selected in VCU Libraries' seventh round of Affordable Course Content Awards. This grant program supports faculty who enhance the learning experience for students through free and/or open course materials.  

The program received a high number of applications this cycle, indicating the faculty's commitment to student success.

Each of this year’s awardees will create or customize open materials with a potential for large impact at and beyond VCU. The awarded projects have the potential to save more than 2,800 VCU students $620,000 annually.

The Affordable Course Content Awards program is made possible in part through funding from the Barbara Ford Endowment of the 21st Century Fund and the Friends of VCU Libraries.

Award recipients

  • Kristina Anthony, Ph.D.Cheri Doucette, and Hillary Cassill, teaching assistant professors in the Department of Mathematics, will adapt the College Algebra OpenStax textbook and create ancillary materials to meet the learning objectives for the course, Algebra with Applications, MATH 141. The ancillary materials will require students to investigate, analyze and communicate real-weal world applications using monotonic functions with and without technology.
  • Professor of Marketing Jodie L. Ferguson, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of Marketing César Zamudio, Ph.D., will lead a team of marketing department faculty to create a handbook of marketing principles to be used in all MKTG 301 classes in the VCU School of Business. The handbook will feature content topic areas (chapters), each written by a subject matter expert faculty member in the department.
  • VaCora Oliver-Rainey, D.D.S., assistant professor of general practice in the VCU School of Dentistry, will customize a small business management OER for the Practice Management Course taken by third year dental students. The customized content will supplement the lectures and provide resources on how to run a dental practice after graduation.
  • In the VCU School of Education, Serra De Arment, Ph.D., associate professor of special education, and Erin Kichinko-Willis, M.Ed, adjunct professor of special education, will identify existing open resources and assemble a comprehensive open resource for graduate  students to use while taking SEDP 531, Educational Foundation for Collaboration and Universal Design for Learning, and to keep as a reference point as they continue in their special education careers.
  • Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, and Morgan Reid, teaching assistant professor of psychology, will develop and adapt an existing  open health psychology textbook. This project will update data, links, and images to ensure the textbook provides current and relevant information, with an eye towards DEI and ensuring accessibility for all students. 

About the Affordable Course Content Awards

The Affordable Course Content Awards provide financial and project support for faculty as they adopt zero-cost resources or create or customize openly-licensed alternatives to expensive course materials. By removing the financial barrier to access, free course materials increase the possibility that students can succeed in their academic careers. Course materials with open licenses also allow faculty to tailor materials to their specific classes, creating engaging learning experiences for students.  While many resources resemble traditional textbooks, supported course materials can take a variety of forms, including interactive websites, videos, or ancillary materials. 

The program has supported 32 projects across the six previous cycles, including Digital Histology, Atelier RÉEL, Business Foundations, and Language and Culture in Context. Through Summer 2023, funded projects have impacted 364 sections of 60 courses and 88 professors and saved 45,139 students (duplicated headcount) $4.5 million.

Learn more about the Affordable Course Content Awards or VCU Libraries’ support for open and affordable course content.


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