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Math faculty get grant to lower textbook costs

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Michael Goodroe, lecturer and learning support liaison of mathematics, and Dr. Berhanu Kidane, assistant professor of mathematics, proposed that learning materials for three UNG math courses, introductory algebra, intermediate algebra and college algebra, be provided to students at no cost.

Two math faculty members on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Oconee Campus have secured a grant to provide students with no-cost digital textbooks for three math courses. The grant was provided by Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG), a University System of Georgia (USG) initiative to promote student success by providing affordable textbook alternatives.

ALG's Textbook Transformation grants help USG faculty and staff identify lower-cost, electronic, free and open education resources to help reduce students' college costs.

Michael Goodroe, lecturer and learning support liaison of mathematics, and Dr. Berhanu Kidane, assistant professor of mathematics, proposed that learning materials for three UNG math courses, introductory algebra, intermediate algebra and college algebra, be provided to students at no cost.

"We know that math textbooks are quite expensive, and to a large extent, students don't use the text as much as they ought to and definitely aren't reading through it as much as other disciplines require. The books are mainly used for practice problems and examples," Goodroe said. "So, when I saw the USG request for e-book grants, it struck a chord with me."

The original course materials required for the introductory and intermediate algebra courses cost students $188 when purchased new; the course materials for the college algebra course cost $206. With the newly received grant, these books will be offered online for free, resulting in a significant savings.

"If we can expand this to all four UNG campuses in the future, the savings would become even more considerable," Goodroe said. "For some students, there is sometimes a choice between rent, groceries and textbooks, and we hope this opportunity eases their burden a bit. We will also conducting surveys with our students to gauge how well the initiative helps."

Kidane added that the digital books' accessibility is another advantage over the print version.

"Students today make great use of having access to digital textbooks," Kidane said. "When taking a full load of courses it can be quite a strain to carry a half-dozen or more physical textbooks with you, but this grant will allow students to access the digital textbook from anywhere that has Internet connectivity. As well-connected as our current generation of students is, many of them find this way of accessing the book preferable to even owning a physical copy."

According to the USG, each student spends an average of $1,200 a year on textbooks. By making college more affordable, the savings afforded to UNG students by Goodroe and Kidane's grant support the USG's and the university's goals of retention, progression and graduation.

The classes will begin using the digital textbooks in spring 2015. ALG received 48 proposals from 19 USG institutions, and of these, only 30, including UNG's, were awarded grants in amounts of $10,800 each.

For more information about ALG, please visit their website at http://www.affordablelearninggeorgia.org/.  

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