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CCGA receives grant to teach math through gastronomic methods
Posted 03/20/2015 12:00AM

Brunswick, GA – Coastal Georgia math faculty have been awarded a grant to transform expensive textbooks into easily accessible and readily affordable online resources, saving students hundreds of dollars. The team tackling the task includes Dr. Jose Lugo, Dr. Laura Lynch, Dr. Jamil Mortada, Professor Treg Thompson, Dr. Victor Vega-Vasquez, and Dr. German Vargas, Department Chair. The math textbooks are the most commonly required for college degrees - algebra, trigonometry, precalculus, and probability and statistics – currently costing from $168 to $342 each.

Their proposal would reduce the cost to less than $33 per textbook by hosting the course materials on the D2L learning platform accessed online: e-textbooks. “Our goal is to promote access and affordability of higher education by adopting low-cost alternatives of textbooks and other educational resources. We want to transform four of the top-50 University System of Georgia’s lower-division core curriculum courses, all in mathematics, without compromising the content standards,” Dr. Vargas explained. “The broad focus of this initiative will target almost every student at CCGA and we expect not only to make college more affordable for those that we already serve but also to help bridge that gap that deters many potential students from considering college as an opportunity for upward mobility.”

Team members will develop PowerPoint presentations to be used for classroom instruction, link via webpage to additional free content resources, align course content to master syllabi, obtain qualitative feedback from students and faculty, compare test results and assessments – all through an online resource already commonly used by Coastal Georgia students. Their timeline calls for a preliminary introduction of the e-textbooks during fall semester 2015, followed by assessment and large-scale implementation in spring 2016.

“Based on student survey results, changes in the content and organization of the course will be implemented as need,” Dr. Vargas noted. “The program faculty will review the materials and results annually, adjusting as appropriate. We don’t expect additional expenses, as all materials will be free and openly available. We will just need to fine-tune the resources as we progress in implementation.”

As many as 2,000 students in almost 60 sections of courses each academic year will benefit from the transformation to more affordable material, according to estimates by Dr. Lance Carluccio, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs. “The faculty of the mathematics department are demonstrating the type of impact that faculty can have in significantly making college more affordable and reducing students debt,” he said.

Dr. Keith Belcher, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, agreed. “As an open access institution many of our students take more than one mathematics course in their chosen program of study. This coupled with the fact that textbook costs are consistently increasing often presents financial stress to students with limited means.”

The Textbook Transformation Grant was awarded by the University System of Georgia through their Affordable Learning Georgia Initiative. The Coastal Georgia proposal was one of 78 submitted by 25 institutions and one of 18 selected in the category of “Transformations at Scale” according to the notification received by the team members.
College of Coastal Georgia
John Cornell
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