GSU faculty members selected to write biology textbook

GRAMBLING, La.- August 30, 2021 – Two Grambling State University faculty members have been chosen to write a high school science textbook as part of an open textbooks program. Dr. Dagne Hill, head of the Department of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Waneene C. Dorsey, a biological sciences professor, have been selected to develop and write a general biology textbook for high school students who will be attending college.

The Louisiana Library Network (LOUIS) and the Louisiana Board of Regents received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the Open Textbooks Pilot Program.

“This initiative engages instructors of dual enrollment across Louisiana in the curation and creation of Open Education Resources (OERs) for 25 of the state’s general education courses,” Dr. Terri Oaks, the grant’s principal investigator and associate commissioner and executive director for LOUIS, said in a press release.

The project could not only reduce the cost of higher education but also eliminate early barriers to participation in post-secondary education.

Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to participate in post-secondary courses for which both college and high school credit may be earned. It can improve college access and degree completion rates by lowering the cost of post-secondary education and accelerating degree attainment, but textbook cost is a barrier to participation.

“I am truly honored to be selected as one of the cohort members to participate in this historic event,” Dr. Dorsey said, explaining that dual enrollment programs give high students a leg up on college credit.

This project will enable and enhance the delivery of OERs and interactive quiz and assessment elements for dual enrollment courses in Louisiana and nationally. The course materials will be released under a license that permits their free use, reuse, modification and sharing with others.

“A lot of times, students do not enroll in dual enrollment programs because of textbook costs,” Dr. Dorsey explained. “When colleges adopt this textbook, it will defray the educational costs for students.”

Although high school students will be using the textbook, it is also a college biology textbook that can be used at colleges across the nation.

Dr. Dorsey said it is very important that she and Dr. Hill are co-authors because they are facilitating diversity in science.

“One of the glaring issues in science is that people of color do not contribute to science. This is not true.” she said. “By improving the diversity landscape to include underrepresented groups, we are encouraging these students to become scientists.”

Dr. Hill said that she is extremely excited to have been selected to assist in the development of an OER course for one of 25 dual enrollment general education courses.

“Each day my educational mission in biology is to assist and to promote students to excel in education,” Dr. Hill said. “This project will allow me the ability to impact a larger number of students in their journey towards academic success.”

Dr. Hill said the project has the potential to reduce costs and to improve the educational outcomes for approximately 20,000 high school students. It is estimated that approximately 250,000 of the total statewide student enrollments per academic year will benefit from the project as well.

“This is vital in that it can increase the number of minority students that elect to further their education by attending college,” she said.

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