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Davis Grant Will Help Advance Open-Educational Resource Initiative

Foundation’s funding will lessen textbook costs and create a more engaging classroom dynamic

Sacred Heart University has received a $10,000 grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to advance its open-educational resources (OER) initiative.

Steven Michels, associate provost, originally received a grant in 2018 to establish a faculty fellow for open-educational resources. The 2019 funding, a Level Two Presidential Grant, will build on this momentum and work toward creating more OER.

The projects supported by the grant will provide more students with access to free or greatly discounted textbooks and course materials. “Our goal is to do all that we can to lower barriers for students who want to study with us,” Michels said. “Access to open-educational resources is a big part of that effort.”

Michels is also in the process of curating, along with David Shaenfield, a lecturer in psychology who coordinates the critical thinking across the curriculum program, OER materials for the critical thinking initiative at the University.

In addition to saving money, OER also enhances the student experience. Research has found student learning outcomes to be on par with or even superior to courses with traditional textbooks and materials. Michels said he’s seen significant benefits from the enhanced critical-thinking course, which was also funded in part by the Davis Foundation. “Courses that use OER materials have the potential to be dynamic and engaging in a way that textbook-bound courses are not,” Michels said.  

The grants received from the Davis Educational Foundation were established by Stanton and Elizabeth Davis after Stanton Davis’ retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc.