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Four faculty win SCoer grants for 2019

Congratulations to the four recipients of this year’s SCoer Faculty Grant. These instructors will create or incorporate open educational resources and other free learning resources into their classroom, exploring innovative new pedagogical practices and, in the process, save their students significant sums of money. The winners are Jennifer Pournelle, School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment; Austin Downey, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Timothy Shaw, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and Meredith DeBoom, Department of Geography.

Now in its fifth year, the SCoer Faculty Grant encourages the classroom use of Open Educational Resources (OER) – teaching, learning and research resources that are freely available to students. The grant is sponsored by the University of South Carolina Libraries.

To participate in the program, the winning faculty members each attended a one-hour workshop hosted by the University Libraries to help them identify or create OER materials for their courses. They have committed to switching from the use of a traditional textbook to an OER or library-licensed resource in one of their classes. Each winner will receive a certificate and a $500 grant.

The SCoer Grant recipients are selected by Student Government representatives and members of the University Libraries.

“The selection committee looks closely at three determining factors: applicants who showed a strong desire to learn the process of finding and using online educational resources, the potential for long-term financial savings for students, and the availability of OER materials on the subject taught,” said Amie Freeman, Scholarly Communication Librarian. “These winners have shown great enthusiasm for using OER in their courses, and we congratulate them.”

Meet this year’s winners:

Meredith DeBoom

Assistant Professor
Department of Geography
College of Arts and Sciences

“I am a first-generation college graduate ... When I began my career as an Assistant Professor at USC in Fall 2018, I made a commitment to myself that improving the inclusivity of higher education would be a priority in my career. Rather than walking away with an expensive textbook, I would much rather my students leave with a clear understanding of how they can apply geographic tools and theories in their careers. Incorporating open pedagogy techniques, as well as OERs, into GEOG 121 will enable me to design a course that is more relevant to my students’ diverse academic and professional goals.”

Austin Downey

Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering and Computing

“I want to use this program to help me to develop Open Educational Resources (OER) (textbook, code, and YouTube Videos) and a no-cost Mechanical Vibrations (EMCH 330) course that will be free of any copyright issues or software costs, allowing it to be freely shared.”

"Vibrations is an excellent candidate for OERs as the fundamentals do not change and the topic is taught at every institution and the basic theory of linear vibrations has not changed in 100 years.”

Jennifer Pournelle

Research Associate Professor
School of Earth, Ocean and Environment
College of Arts and Sciences

“As a primary instructor for a Carolina Core science course open to all non-science majors, I have the privilege of working with a huge share of students unfamiliar with, and often terrified by, science terms and practices they view as mystifying and inapplicable. They all share wonder at and hope for the natural world around them - but cannot grasp the profound interrelationships among their own lives, other organisms, and the earth systems they cohabit. A huge percentage of my students work full time, are competitive athletes and performance artists, come from rural communities and low income families, with 'direct to job' majors. OER lets me help them see that 'environment' is wherever you are and whatever you do, and 'science' is a way of observing the here and now, and making decisions accordingly.”

Timothy Shaw

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
College of Arts and Sciences

"I have gotten permission to teach from the OpenStax text on a trial basis this fall and develop a slide set for later adoption in more sections based on the OER commons resources. I have looked into other schools that are using the OpenStax text and the book is both rigorous and popular. I hope in the future we can adapt problem sets to Blackboard to eliminate for sale online homework as well."


SCoer Faculty Grants are awarded once a year. The next award cycle will be Spring 2020.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.