With an 85-86% TAAP-in rate, the team behind TAAP considered its first semester to be a success, but the program was met with mixed reviews from students and faculty.
While some students loved the convenience of the program and felt they paid less for materials, the most common complaint among students was the poor communication from the program. The team behind TAAP agreed that the biggest challenge this semester was communication.
“We’re trying to figure out how to improve communication to make sure that there’s full transparency, [and] that faculty and students understand what TAAP is all about.” Paul Deniston, the Director of Retail Services, said.
While students and faculty seemed to struggle with understanding the program, the team said that there was a large volume of communication on TAAP this semester, estimating that they sent over 23,500 emails to students, faculty and staff over the semester concerning the program.
“The challenge wasn’t doing the communication. The challenge was it being successful.” Larry Lee, the Executive Director of Auxiliary Services, said.
The team is implementing several changes next semester to improve communication, one of them being communication about the program via text message.
There will also be more places to view information about the TAAP program, including an informational section for instructors and professors to include in their syllabi as well as links to more information about the program on Canvas. A link to information on TAAP will also be under the UCCS resource tab.
To clarify confusion on how TAAP works, the team will change how the program is explained. They said that a lot of communication-related problems they encountered this semester were because of conceptual misunderstandings.
According to Justine O’ Neil, a growth professional for marketing and communications for auxiliary services, the team plans to market TAAP as a membership rather than a program, akin to something like Spotify.
“When you stay in, … you have a membership for the semester, so you have access to all of the materials that are required that your professor has adopted,” she said.
Another common issue that several students encountered was receiving their course materials in a timely manner. Many course materials this semester were backordered. The team attributes this to late course material adoptions from faculty, noting half of the adoptions were late.
“That accounted for 90% of backorders and late arrivals. That’s something that we’ve made really good progress with faculty to improve our adoption rate,” Lee said. “So that should drastically improve the backorders and late arrivals.”
Lee emphasized that he did not want to blame faculty for the late arrivals, explaining that adoptions getting in late did not matter as much in the past as they do now, and faculty just weren’t put on alert enough due to the conceptual misunderstanding of the program.
The team said the adoption rate for next semester is at 96% and expects course materials to be given to students by the first day of classes.
They are working to improve the program and will continue to do so over time.
“We are working hard to rectify any mishaps that have happened,” O’Neil said.
“Innovation is iterative,” Lee said, “it’s not going to take us long, but it is going to take some time to perfect TAAP … and we appreciate the grace.”
There is also a faculty liaison on the auxiliary services staff who they hope will be able to collaborate with faculty to temporarily provide course materials that haven’t arrived by the beginning of the semester.
Several students expressed frustrations about being automatically enrolled in TAAP. One reason students are automatically enrolled was for the success of the program. “Every equitable access program that has started as an opt-in has completely failed,” Deniston said.
Another reason for the automatic opt-in is that students who TAAP out are still able to take advantage of TAAP until the census date.
“At the start of the class, every student has access to their materials. They have up until census to decide ‘Does this program work for me? Do I like it? Does it make financial sense?’ The entire time, they’ve never gotten behind in courses,” Deniston said.
While students who received their textbooks digitally did not get behind in their classes, some who were assigned physical textbooks did not receive them on time, causing them to fall behind in their classes.
Some students wondered why they were unable to TAAP in for certain classes and TAAP out for others. The team said this is because they are able to get the lowest possible cost by buying in bulk, which allows them to keep the cost of TAAP per credit hour low.
Students in programs with cheaper course materials sometimes felt they were subsidizing programs with more expensive course materials through the program. O’ Neil said this isn’t the case.
“If it were a required fee, you could argue that, but if TAAP doesn’t work for you, then you could TAAP out,” O’Neil said.
While the team considered making TAAP mandatory for all students, like some other universities who have similar programs, they decided to give students the option to be involved in TAAP, something Lee said makes TAAP “truly equitable.”
Some colleges have expensive programs that were not included in TAAP this semester. The team is working to incorporate the nursing testing package, ATI, into TAAP, which could happen as soon as next fall, and they have already incorporated the education package, Tevera.
For next semester, the team is pushing for students to review their personalized value sheet on their TAAP portal and remember that they are always free to TAAP out if it makes more sense for them.
“If it doesn’t work for you, we don’t want you in the program, but we want to make the program as beneficial to as many students as possible, and right now, it benefits the majority of students,” Deniston said.
This article is the final part of a series on the different perspectives of TAAP. Click here for the previous article.
UCCS concludes its first semester using the TAAP program for students. Photo by Lexi Petri.