Course Materials…Already?

It is that time of year again! The weather is cooling down and my daughter is changing her mind about a Halloween costume every weekend so it must be…time to select Spring textbooks?

Having the correct course material in place before spring registration in October helps students make course and budget decisions. Reporting your course materials is critical even if you are using library or open educational resources (OER).

Do you know what classes you are teaching?

Are you planning on using the same materials you did last time?

If you answered “yes” to both of these questions you can finish this process in five minutes. Use the Canvas “Account” menu option in the upper left, and then click “Follett Discover”, or you can email your course materials list to, and you will be done in a flash.

I know many part-time faculty will not have specific sections yet and schedules can change. However, this is a critical issue for students as they make decisions and early reporting also allows the bookstore time to find lower-priced used materials. I encourage you to consider a department or program-level conversation about selecting predictable materials for classes so the Department Chair can make selections for courses yet to be assigned. 

Speaking of textbooks, if you are looking to find or develop a quality resource to lower costs for students, that also increases the likelihood they will have the materials and read for your class, be on the lookout for our CAL$ application later this fall.  The CAL$ program will run during the Spring semester.

Zach Justus
Interim Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

Equity is Everyone’s Responsibility

Last week we mentioned the grades and equity dashboard as a useful tool for looking at who your students are and how they are doing. It is no secret that our campus continues to struggle to make equity a reality. We continue to make progress in fits and starts, but we do not need to wait for big initiatives or funding cycles to make change. The most critical equity work on campus starts with you in the classroom. The challenges are real, but we partnered with Undergraduate Education to create a list of changes we can implement as individuals in the classroom–often while the semester is ongoing. 

  • Rename office hours student hours. A simple change in name can make you more approachable and increase student utilization of time you have set aside for them. 
  • Show your students who you areSharing our own narratives with students makes it easier for them to approach us with questions.
  • Incorporate diverse examples into your assigned material. Students will not always see themselves in you and your experiences. They should see themselves in the material we assign
  • Incorporate an assignment where students draw on their personal experience. This signals to students you care about who they are and where they come from. 
  • Look for ways to lower course material costs. A 2020 survey reported about 65% of students have skipped buying course materials because of cost. This has a disproportionate impact on lower income students. Visit the Chico Affordable Learning Solutions (CAL$) website for more information about zero and low cost course materials.
  • Limit extra credit. Our students who are working, first-generation, and diverse are statistically less likely to do extra tasks. When we offer extra credit for additional work there is a disproportionate benefit for already advantaged students (Feldman, 2018, Grading for Equity).
  • Move away from high stakes assignments and towards more frequent, reflective, iterative work. Research shows that students are more likely to retain information when engaged in regular practice and application, and receive feedback that they can use to improve.  Here is some feedback from a faculty member who tried this technique in her classroom for a semester. 

For a deeper dive check out our existing teaching guides focused on inclusion and consider signing up for equity focused offerings in this semester’s FDEV slate.

Zach Justus
Interim Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences

Chico Affordable Learning Solutions

Sent on behalf of Beth Shook and Edward Roualdes, CAL$ program leads

Chico Affordable Learning Solutions (CAL$) provides resources to faculty regarding affordable course materials, including how to find and adopt quality zero-cost or low-cost textbooks and other materials, or create Open Educational Resources (OERs). 

CAL$ has been on the Chico State campus since 2013, and went by the name Textbook Affordability Project (TAP) until 2018. We adopted the name Chico Affordable Learning Solutions to better align our campus effort with the Chancellor’s Office program, Affordable Learning Solutions. CAL$ has offered both summer and academic-year workshops as well as does one-on-one mentoring with faculty. Since 2014, Chico State faculty participating in CAL$ programs have helped students save over 1.2 million dollars.

About OER
Open Educational Resources (OER), for the purposes of CAL$ funded opportunities, are defined as teaching and learning materials that are in the public domain or licensed to allow anyone free and perpetual access to them. OER materials should allow others to engage in the five 5 R activities:  reuse, retain, revise, remix, and redistribute. OERs include a wide range of materials including books, case studies, reference materials, assessments, assignments, tutorials, slides, videos, and more.

Funding opportunity
Chico Affordable Learning Solutions (CAL$), for the first time since its inception, is pleased to offer course release support to faculty who want to create their own Open Educational Resources. With funding from the Chancellor’s Office program Affordable Learning Solutions, CAL$ will be able to provide course releases for three faculty members (of up to 3 AWTU per participant) in spring 2022. Applicants should follow the Call For Applications, which are due by Friday, October 1. We anticipate notifying selected applicants by Friday, October 8th.