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Grants Expand Resources for Clarke Art and Biology Programs

By Clarke News  |  December 3, 2021

For the second time in 2021, Clarke University has received grants from the Iowa Private Academic Libraries to invest in open educational resources. Two grants totaling over $10,000 will benefit students in the biology and art programs at Clarke.

Open educational resources are materials that are in the public domain or have been released under an open license. The IPAL grants compensate faculty for adopting, remixing, or creating open resources, including everything from full courses to sections of textbooks, lectures, or assessments.

Professor Jessie Rebik received an award of $7,475 to create a series of videos to supplement her Painting I and II classes, as part of Clarke’s Studio Art program. The videos will offer demonstrations of different materials, techniques, and processes that reinforce lessons from class so students can practice at their own pace outside of class.

“With this resource, students can watch the instruction at their own pace, pause to take notes, and repeat parts that they didn’t fully retain after a single viewing,” Rebik said. “By offering this resource outside of class, we can use our time together for more one-on-one instructor interaction and feedback. Additionally, with more student-athletes and non-traditional students needing flexibility in their learning, the videos ensure that students have access to the demonstrations even when they are absent from class.”

Professor Andrea Bixler received $3,000 to support the development of an open access writing guide for Biology students, which she is creating alongside Associate Professors of Biology Laura Birch, Shaun Bowman, and Laura Hecker. The online tutorials will assist students in preparing professional-level lab reports, as well as improving other aspects of their writing. This is the second IPAL grant that Bixler and the team have received.

“Developing our own materials allows us to tailor them to the needs of our students, including those who are underprepared in science and have never written scientific lab reports, as well as those who struggle with writing in general,” Bixler said.

The freely available tutorials will improve learning because they will more actively engage students who do not learn as well from passive reading or are uncomfortable participating in classroom discussions. There is an institution-wide benefit from these resources as well, as Clarke University will graduate students who are more successful science writers and therefore more likely to succeed in their future careers.

Several courses in the Biology and Spanish Departments at Clarke University already use open educational resources and with the support of the staff in the Nicholas J. Schrup Library, Clarke is working to expand these resources to other departments.

“Open educational resources give us incredible flexibility in how and what we teach and offer phenomenal opportunities to collaborate with educators at Clarke and around the world. This increased access allows for innovation and continued growth in teaching and learning,” said Eden Wales Freedman, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Clarke University. “Open educational resources also reduce costs for students by eliminating the need for a textbook, while offering high-quality educational materials that can be easily accessed and shared.”

Throughout 2021, IPAL awarded over $245,000 to institutions of higher education across Iowa, funded in part by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief efforts. More information can be found at