Writing Program Awarded State Grant

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has awarded a $25,000 Open Educational Resource (OER) Development Grant to four UTSA faculty and one Palo Alto College faculty member to tailor a Creative Commons textbook for WRC 1013/ENG 1301:Freshman Composition I/Composition I.

  • Christina Frasier, Assistant Professor in Practice, UTSA 
  • Darren Meritz, Senior Lecturer, UTSA/Northwest Vista
  • Melissa Elston, Associate Professor, Palo Alto College
  • Manjit Kaur, Associate Professor in Practice, UTSA 
  • Nancy Hall, Associate Professor in Practice, UTSA

As a team they are working in UTSA Pressbooks to tailor content from two open educational resources: Let’s Get Writing and Conventions 101: A Functional Approach to Teaching (And Assessing!) Grammar and Punctuation. Together, they will also tailor content for international students enrolled in the courses.

While working with designated cost-share teams at UTSA Libraries and Academic Innovation, they are leveraging campus support for UTSA Pressbooks and ensuring accessibility and universal design for learning are incorporated into the textbook. The faculty are also using a custom version of the Open Ed Group’s cost, outcomes, usage and perceptions COUP Framework to collect student feedback: this is the same survey UTSA Libraries uses for the Adopt a Free Textbook Grant Program.

Work began on the text in Fall 2021, with a progress report submitted in December 2021. By Spring 2022, the team taught from select chapters of the textbook. And, by Fall 2022 their courses will be taught using the textbook in its complete form. They will deposit the final version of the textbook in OERTX, the digital repository of open educational resources for Texas students and educators in December 2022.

Team members provided the following commentary on the project:

Christina Frasier
Christina Frasier

Christina Frasier: “Projects like ours have the potential to positively impact thousands of first-year students at all levels of higher education. Developing learning materials tailored to the needs of our students is one way faculty can objectively make a difference beginning on the first day of class. Making these quality books free and available for students’ reference throughout their college careers and beyond is our goal. Students should not have to pay high prices at the outset or hit a paywall at the end of the semester to access material they will need to use throughout their college careers.

Darren Mertitz
Darren Meritz

Darren Meritz: “This project builds on all the great things we can do with OER. We have an opportunity to make a small difference in the cost of education by creating a free textbook for students at our university or in the community college system. At the same time, we are creating a text that can specifically address the challenges and academic strengths at our institutions. To me, that’s really special. Even if our students don’t see it quite yet, ultimately I’m sure they will. We’re using this text to foster specialization and innovation, and you can’t really put a price tag on that.”

Dr. Melissa Elston: “OER work isn't just good educational or social policy; it's personal to me. I still remember the struggle of juggling grocery money and rent with book purchases for the upcoming semester, as a single mother. I was worried about appearing to be an irresponsible or disengaged student (if I failed to purchase all the books on time), but I was also even more worried about feeding my daughter and keeping the lights on. I can't go back and change those years, but I can try to mitigate this part of financial stress for future students -- particularly working-class students and those with family obligations. I'm proud of how UTSA's and PAC's shared resource contributes to that effort, and I'm happy if I can make life a little easier for the next generation of young scholars.”