Affordable Education Champion: Dr. Matt Worden

In celebration of Open Education Week 2022, the Senate of College Councils and UT Libraries partnered to solicit nominations from students across campus to recognize instructors who increased access and equity by selecting free or low cost course materials for their classes. We’ll be recognizing a few of those nominees this week as Affordable Education Champions!

Affordable Education Champions are instructors who assign free or low cost resources – like textbooks, websites, films, and more – for their courses. Sometimes they author their own materials, and sometimes they’re able to reuse free or low cost work created by others. We share gratitude and appreciation for their commitment to fostering access to high quality education at the lowest possible cost barrier for their students. 

Today, we congratulate and thank Dr. Matt Worden, who was nominated by his students in CH 153K (Physical Chemistry Laboratory) in the Department of Chemistry. Matt is an Assistant Professor of Instruction in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where he has taught since 2016. A Canadian by birth, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo in Ontario and completed his PhD at Kent State before doing a postdoc at Boston University.

Dr. Matt Worden, Department of Chemistry

Students who nominated Matt emphasized the value that his efforts to develop his own course materials, including lab manuals and guided questions for investigations, have had on their educational experience in the course. All the materials are relevant and customized to the learning outcomes students are expected to achieve. Having materials shared directly on Canvas also made access seamless. 

Matt is committed to keeping the cost of education low and transparent, but he also recognizes the pedagogical value of developing his own course materials. He tells us, “I’m teaching these labs. For [the materials] to be ‘mine’ in any meaningful sense, I have to be able to justify everything that is presented to and required of the students. And so the best way for me to do that is to write the manuals myself. In the few cases I haven’t done this myself, the manuals are sourced from professors working with the POGIL (process oriented guided inquiry learning) project whom I have worked with before and whose overall teaching ethos is similar to my own.” This approach aligns with Matt’s interest in experiential learning, making lab instruction a great fit.

If you want to minimize costs and make materials accessible for your own students, Matt recommends checking out education journals for your field. “The Journal of Chemical Education, in my case, is great to gather ideas, advice, and resources for teaching experiments or lecture topics.” Not sure which journals you can access through UT Libraries? Contact your subject librarian to learn more! 

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