CETLCenter for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning


Choosing Affordable & Effective Course Materials


The University of Cincinnati is strongly committed to lowering the cost of textbooks and other learning resources for our students.

Identifying affordable, quality materials that fundamentally and efficiently support stronger student learning is crucial to the success of our courses. This page is designed to support faculty and instructors in choosing affordable, student-centered learning materials that align with the outcomes and curricula of UC courses.


Factors to consider when choosing/designing course materials:

  • Quality and effectiveness of the material

  • Affordability (weighing material cost against actual use/impact)


  • Overall support (how well the content is supported both in and out of class)

Textbook Affordability @UC

Charlie Ginn

In 2011 Dr. Charles Ginn, A&S, Psychology, received an Ohio Innovator Award from the Ohio Board of Regents for his efforts to reduce content costs for students.

Ginn, with 14 other professors statewide, was named an innovator by the former Ohio chancellor of education Eric Fingerhut. The annual award, recognizing Ohio faculty finding creative ways to reduce the cost of course materials for students while improving educational content, was given to Ginn for championing the Ohio Digital Bookshelf as research director of OhioLINK’s eTextProject.


Costs & Considerations

  • High costs of textbooks and course materials increase the liklihood that students will not purchase what's required for the course.
  • Lowering the costs of textbooks, particularly in large courses, can increase success rates, decrease the number of students who repeat the course, and raise student satisfaction.

      Some considerations:

  • Are your materials affordable for students?
  • Do you order your books from UC Bookstores with enough notice so that they may get the best price for our students?
  • Do you use books that are available to buy in more than one place, e.g. (online and in bookstores)?
  • Do you actively resuse the same book from course to course, which also lowers cost?
  • Do you inform students that they may use older editions of the required texts?
  • Do other lower cost materials of equal quality exist, e.g. Open Educational Resources? If not, are you able to develop lower cost materials that suit your needs?

Quality & Effectiveness of Course Materials

  • Does the material effectively support the outcomes for your assignments, units, and courses?
  • Is the material sufficiently up to date? If not, are there efficient ways for you to fill any available gaps?
  • Does the material effectively support successful student preparation for courses following yours?
  • Does the material you choose and provide make the best use of your students' time (and your time)? In other words, does it get to the heart of your outcomes in a way that values your time as an instructor and your students' time as learners?
  • Often (but not always), the key concepts students need from a two-hour lecture or 40pg chapter can be distilled into shorter, discrete blocks or in careful editing of the material, say, choosing the most relevant 15 pages from a chapter's 40, or finding four open source 5-10 minute videos that cover concepts in-depth.

 Overall Support

  • Is there sufficient support for your students to guide them in the use of the materials you've chosen? In other words, we often assume that students will know exactly how to use the materials that we require, when often they need instruction on how to efficiently and effectively use these often complex tools (tools that seem simple to us as experts).

UC Resources

For book orders and information:

  • Tony D'Urso
    Course Materials Manager
    University of Cincinnati Bookstore
    (513) 556-1296

For availability of free resources via the UC Library's digital collection:

  • Deb Tenofsky
    Digital Archivist
    University Libraries

For consults or information regarding faculty and department options for materials adoption: 

  • Dr. Charlie Ginn
    Department of Psychology, A&S

For information regarding the University's Committee for Textbook Affordability

  • Adrian Hall
    Office of the Provost

For information on the integration of eTexts and digital tools in Blackboard:

  • Paul Foster
    University of Cincinnati Information Technologies


General Resources

Textbook Affordability

Choosing and Using Textbooks