Alison Heinhold Melley receives VIVA Open grant to develop open educational resource

Alison Heinhold Melley receives VIVA Open grant to develop open educational resource

Alison Heinhold Melley, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, is developing an open educational resource (OER) for her large-enrollment introductory psychology courses, made possible through a Content Creation grant from VIVA Open.

VIVA Open grants focus on reducing the costs of higher education for Virginia students by eliminating course material costs. These grants encourage the use of open and affordable course content, including textbooks, software, and other course materials, by providing funding for instructors to adapt and create course content that can be made available to students for no or very little cost.

Melley found that existing OERs (educational materials that are openly licensed and provide low or no-cost learning materials for students) for introductory psychology lacked the interactive features she wanted for her classroom and has been curating materials from various sources to share with students the practical application of psychological science in our daily lives. She is working closely with PhD student Anna Sofia Caruso, who is creating an accessible and interactive digital resource that incorporates psychology department research that is relevant to students.

The resource will align with the new learning outcomes endorsed by the American Psychological Association (APA) for introductory psychology courses. In order to integrate diverse voices and perspectives, Melley is reusing and remixing content (through Creative Commons licenses) with their newly created content. This approach ensures that students have access to a wide range of viewpoints and the latest insights in the field of psychology. 

"One of the most exciting facets of this project is its collaborative nature," Melley said. A draft version of the reading materials is currently being piloted in Melley's classes this semester. Students are providing valuable feedback through annotations and even contributing to multimedia projects that may be included in the final product. Melly explained that this project represents a significant step forward in her goal to provide "sustainable assignments" that build skills and communicate science through authentic learning experiences.