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UAA to implement a ZTC (zero textbook cost) course marking initiative

by Denise Runge, Ph.D., UAA Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs  |   

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I am pleased to share an update about ongoing student success initiatives at UAA aimed at helping students complete their education in the most affordable way possible.

Recent data from the UAA RISC surveys tells us that finances are one of the greatest barriers to student success and degree completion. The high cost of textbooks and other course materials plays a major role in a student’s ability to afford and complete higher education.

In order to support ongoing faculty and staff efforts to reduce course materials costs as one component of addressing educational affordability, UAA will soon implement a ZTC (zero textbook cost) course marking initiative. ZTC means that the required course materials for the class (textbooks and other materials that impart course content) are available to students free-of-charge. ZTC sections include courses: (1) using open educational resources (OER), (2) where all materials are freely available (e.g., curated collections of library resources) or (3) other free to access resources (like web resources, instructor-created, or peer-created materials).

Course marking initiatives disproportionately benefit students historically underrepresented in higher education and help us close equity gaps in student success. This is one of many steps in our ongoing efforts to put students first.

We know that students use many course attributes to choose which classes and sections they take. These include things like the course modality (face-to-face or online), instructor, and days and times of class meetings. Adding ZTC as a searchable course attribute will allow students to consider it as an additional factor when deciding which sections to take.

The UAA course marking initiative will involve the following steps:

  • When preparing a semester’s course schedule, department Chairs or Directors will ask each faculty member to indicate whether or not their course qualifies as Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC). Learn more about ZTC course marking via the Consortium Library’s LibGuide on this topic.
  • Deans and Directors will work with their college staff to add a ZTC identifier on applicable sections.
  • The Office of Student Success will inform students, faculty, and staff about how to search for ZTC courses within the course schedule in UAOnline.

To date, 13 states and dozens of other institutions have instituted course marking initiatives, some as a result of legislation that requires it. UAF recently initiated a similar course making system. 

Vice Provost Claudia Lampman and the Student Success Advisory Council are working to implement this new process. Feel free to contact her at cblampman@alaska.edu with any questions. You may also contact the faculty co-chairs of the UAA Textbook Affordability initiative D’Arcy Hutchings (dlhutchings@alaska.edu) and Veronica Howard (vjhoward@alaska.edu).

Thank you for all you do to help UAA students succeed!

Sincerely,
Denise Runge, Ph.D., Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs 

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