Here’s the latest news from Middle Tennessee State University.
Professors win Fulbright awards
MTSU faculty members Mary Ellen Sloane and Gregory Reish have secured places in the Fulbright Scholarship Program for the upcoming academic year.
Sloane, a 17-year-old librarian who works at the James E. Walker Library in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, will begin her three-month Fulbright research in September in Rwanda.
She will be based at the Ellen DeGeneres campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund where she will assess the range of past and current research areas covered by the organization and plan the development of the library in the new DeGeneres campus.
Reish, director of MTSU’s Center for Popular Music within the College of Media and Entertainment, will travel in January for five months to Xalapa, Mexico, and the University of Veracruz where he will teach classes as part of the program. of North American Studies from the host university – which focuses on the US-Mexico relationship.
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The Fulbright US Scholar Programs provide US professors, administrators, and professionals with grants to lecture and/or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields, or to attend seminars.
The program awards more than 1,700 scholarships each year, allowing 800 American scholars to go abroad and 900 visiting scholars to come to the United States.
“I will plan a library at the new Ellen DeGeneres Campus of DFGF by applying library research methodologies in the areas of public service, library education, and collection development,” she said.
Meanwhile, Reish returns to Veracruz after a trip there for research and music in 2016.
“My friends at the host university are delighted because they’ve never had a music specialist before. It’s always been historians and political scientists. I’m not going to teach music students, but a course on the history and culture of the United States, but through the lens of music,” said Reish.
This will be Reish’s second Fulbright experience, the first having taken him to Italy 25 years ago.
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Reduced cost of textbooks
The prices of textbooks have increased in recent years. But a group of MTSU faculty and staff are using grants from Open Educational Resources to offset costs for students.
Since 2019, this group has used $100,000 of this grant to save more than $150,000 for over 2,500 students.
Erica Stone, an associate professor of English and a member of the OER steering committee, said 42% of students surveyed either had delayed access to mainstream materials or couldn’t afford to pay for them at all.
Students surveyed said they prioritize shopping, sometimes foregoing books for electives or general courses to spend money on a textbook for a class in their major.
MTSU students should budget an average of $1,240 to $1,440 for books and supplies per school year. However, the average student will spend around $415 due to costs.
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To combat this problem, MTSU faculty members use information already freely available to the public or write and publish their own materials. In total, more than 70 faculty members in 25 different courses used OER in the most recent academic year.
Stone said the free materials are of the same quality as their expensive counterparts.
OER materials are available to students on the first day of class, ensuring students don’t fall behind.
The steering committee is asking for more grants and continuing to encourage faculty and staff to get certified so they have a thorough understanding of how to find and use OER materials.
The Walker Library is working to make resources available to more students and recently hired a new Chair of User Services to act as the OER point of contact. Plans are underway to add another resource person.
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