Contact: Lisa Burgert, Collection Development/Open Educational Resources Librarian
San Diego - As the leading college of equity and excellence, San Diego Mesa College
believes that textbooks should not be a barrier to education. According to the Bureau
of Labor Statistics there has been a 1041% increase in textbook costs from 1977 to 2015. This increase in textbook costs has contributed to education being prohibitive.
ZTC, or Zero Textbook Costs, refer to classes where any required textbook can be accessed
online for free or that there isn’t a required textbook assigned. Equity and overcoming
barriers to student success are the hallmarks of Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) initiatives.
In fact, ZTC is so important that Governor Newsom dedicated $115 million for California
Community Colleges to help facilitate the formation of ZTC degree pathways.
San Diego Mesa College offers 14 ZTC degree path programs that are saving students over $1 million
each year. Although it is difficult to track the exact amount of savings at this
time, estimates suggest, based on the number of courses offering ZTC and students
enrolled, that since fall 2019, Mesa students have saved over $4 million in textbook
costs thanks to faculty using these Open Educational Resources (OER).
In the spring of 2021, Achieving the Dream (ATD) selected eight colleges, including
San Diego Mesa College, to participate in its research on open educational resources
(OER). The goal of ATD’s Teaching and Learning with OER study was to understand whether
and how faculty’s use of OER leads to the adoption of new pedagogical strategies in
Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 300 community colleges,
like Mesa College, committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students
and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth,
and economic opportunity.
Mesa College (Mesa) has designated ZTC classes in the class schedule with a logo that
is a dollar sign surrounded by a circle with a line diagonally through it.
Currently, Mesa has 14 ZTC degree pathways. ZTC degree pathways are degrees where
a students can attend and graduate from Mesa without paying for a single college textbook.
Mesa college faculty and staff have been dedicated to this initiative, and many professors
have overhauled their classes to make them ZTC compatible, and along the way they’ve
made some excellent discoveries.
Professor Mary Gwin stated, “I discovered that switching to ZTC allowed me to teach
sustainability courses with data and resources that are up to date and current.”
English Professors Pegah Motaleb, Christie Allred, Jorge Villalobos and many more
found that they have been able to incorporate marginalized voices into readings through
the use of library materials and openly licensed materials. In fact, transfer English
classes have the most ZTC sections of any courses at Mesa College.
Having 14 ZTC degree pathways is an amazing start – and as always, Mesa College plans
to do more. Mesa recently received $20,000 in funding from the state in conjunction
with the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges Open Educational Resources
Initiative intended to continue these efforts.
Mesa College prides itself on being the leading college of equity and excellence,
and the focus on ZTC is one of the ways Mesa is closing equity gaps and creating a
fruitful environment of academic learning. More information is available at https://sdmesa.libguides.com/ZTC
Mesa College ZTC Questions and Answers
What is a ZTC Pathway/how students find them in the class schedule?
1. When a class is labeled as ZTC (Zero Textbook Cost) that means any required textbook
can be accessed online for free, or that there isn't a required textbook assigned
for the class. Students will not be required to purchase a textbook for the class.
2. ZTC (Zero Textbook Cost) classes are easy to identify in the class schedule
What ZTC pathways does San Diego Mesa College have?
1. General Education Mesa & Transfer
2. Communication Studies AA & AA Transfer
3. Creative Writing CA
4. English AA & AA Transfer
5. Fine Art: Art History AA & AA Transfer
6. Geography AA
7. Mathematics AA & AS Transfer
8. Applied Mathematics AA
9. Dance AA, Choreography CA, Commercial Dance CA
Why is breaking barriers for students/improving student success important, especially
for marginalized populations?
1. Textbook costs should not be a barrier to education. The price of college textbooks increased 88% from January 2006 to July 2016. If we take a longer look back, the increase is even
more startling. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a 1,041% increase from January 1977 to June 2015, which is over three times the rate of inflation. College
students face steep price tags that can make the cost of learning higher than the cost of attending a college or university.
2. Students learn more when they have access to quality materials. The rapidly rising cost of textbooks in higher education has left many students without
access to the materials they need to succeed. Studies show that 93% of students who use OER do as well or better than those using traditional
materials, since they have easy access to the content starting day one of the course.
3. Openly licensed materials increase currency and relevancy. Imagine a science textbook that incorporates the latest results from a laboratory,
or a math tutorial that incorporates local landmarks into word problems. This and
more is possible when instructional materials are created to be shared and improved
digitally and legally.
4. Reduces equity gaps. Mesa takes seriously our responsibility to equity. In July 2018, a large-scale study by the University of Georgia was published that examined the impact of OER on student
success metrics. The findings revealed that OER improves end-of course grades and
decreases D, F, and Withdrawal letter grades for all students and at greater rates for non-white and Pell-eligible students, part-time students, and populations historically
underserved by higher education. Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for SPARC,
noted that “the most important finding of this study is that it directly links OER with equity. The greatest gains from using OER accrued to the students most likely to be underserved
for traditional models" (McKenzie, 2018).
Check out Mesa’s Zero Textbook Cost Degrees
Find OER and Zero Cost Materials
Mesa College 2023 Jumpstart event – welcoming 350 prospective new students
San Diego Mesa College Campus B-roll
San Diego Mesa College student ambassadors and navigators B-roll
About San Diego Mesa College
San Diego Mesa College is a fully accredited, comprehensive college committed to equity
and excellence. We honor our diverse community of students, faculty, professional
staff, and administrators who collaborate to foster scholarship, leadership, access,
and innovation in an inclusive learning environment. By promoting student learning
and achievement that leads to degrees and certificates, transfer, workforce training,
and lifelong learning, we empower our students to reach their educational goals and
shape their future. Among the largest community colleges in California, Mesa serves
25,000 students per year, 25% of whom are full-time. Mesa offers nearly 200 associate
degree and certificate programs and is one of 15 California community colleges offering
a four-year baccalaureate degree. Mesa ranks as San Diego’s top transfer institution,
is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), an Asian American and Native American
Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI), and a Military Friendly School, serving
nearly 2,500 veterans and their families. www.sdmesa.edu.
Tags: Press Release