First Open/Zero-Cost Intro Psych Course Launches in Fall

The Department of Behavioral Sciences will teach all the sections of its Psych 102 course as open/zero-cost starting in Fall '21

The Department of Behavioral Sciences, chaired by Prof. Debra Swoboda, has done significant work of converting all the sections of its Introduction to Psychology (Psych 102) course in 2021-22 to OER/zero-cost and saving students tens of thousands of dollars in textbook costs in the process. The department has voted to switch to the free and open textbook Introduction to Psychology by Jorden A. Cummings and Lee Sanders (University of Saskatchewan). Open Educational Resources have been one of the foremost solutions to the problem of exorbitant commercial textbook costs, which is closely related to student educational success and retention rates.

The impetus for the shift to open/zero-cost for PSY 102 came from Prof. Swoboda's conversations with the College NOW Coordinator Lester Raphael who discussed similar initiatives for Psychology, Sociology, and Political Science classes in the College NOW program. Department faculty-based their choice of the U of Saskatchewan manual by carefully weighing such factors as content, readability, quality of the visuals, and mobile compatibility in their textbook choice, modeling how such decisions could be made in the future. Prof. Susan Austin, the PSY 102 course coordinator, wrote the new syllabus for all the sections. A training was held in the well-regarded digital annotation platform Perusall to motivate greater engagement with the online textbook.

Funding for this large-scale conversion was provided by the CUNY OER grant from the New York State, which incentivizes the assigning of open and zero-cost textbooks and class materials for students, now in its fourth year. Advisement for the initiative was provided by York College's Center for Teaching, Learning and Educational Technologies Director, Dr. Greet Van Belle, and Open Educational Resources Coordinator Dr. Katherine Tsan.