25 OER Journey Contribution to Tenure and Promotion

Izabela Mazur

Case study writer: Izabela Mazur, Associate Teaching Professor

Institution: Thompson Rivers University

Type of intervention: This case study outlines how my contribution toward OER impacted my application for tenure and promotion.


As an associate teaching professor working at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), I work for the University and Employment Preparation Department (UEPrep), which offers Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses for upgrading students. TRU has institutional documents that guide the tenure and promotion process. When applying for tenure and promotion, it is essential to know TRU Faculty Association Collective Agreement Article 6, Senate’s Principles and Essential Features of Standards Documents, and Departmental Standards. To apply for tenure and promotion, one must be in a tenure-track appointment. The first tenure-track appointment is for three years and is up for renewal after a successful performance review for the additional three years. During those six years, one must first apply for tenure to the rank he or she is in and after (or at the same time), apply for promotion. When applying for tenure and promotion in the UEPrep department, one must provide evidence of meeting or exceeding the UEPrep teaching and service standards for tenure and promotion. When I had applied, I was in a tenure-track, bipartite appointment. Therefore, my application was evaluated based on the following weighting: 80 percent to teaching and 20 percent to service. Unfortunately, the departmental standards do not include OER. Being in a bipartite appointment, it was hard for me to decide where to include my OER contribution. I ended up successfully including my contribution to OER in both teaching and service standards.

According to BCcampus statistics, TRU is one of the top five adopting institutions in BC. TRU supports open education initiatives by providing grants, coordinating projects, organizing workshops, and showcasing OER. Many faculty members and administrators are among the leaders in OER grants and completed OER projects. In the last two years, five TRU members received the BCcampus Award of Excellence in open education. I am one of those members who received the award.

I have been teaching algebra and precalculus courses for the UEPrep department for the last 19 years. The textbooks for those courses are very expensive, with an average of $230.00 for a single one, and some students simply could not afford to buy it. I am grateful that in 2018, I was first introduced to the idea of OER. This intrigued me so much that shortly after, I was reading related research on OER, reviewing open textbooks, comparing the outcomes, and thinking of adopting an open textbook for one of my classes. Around the same time, I got involved in the Adult Basic Education Zero Textbook Cost Committee (ABE ZTC). My journey with OER began with my goal to make zero-cost pathways for all math courses at TRU. I am close to my goal.

Since 2018, I have been involved in three different OER projects supported by BCcampus and TRU. I was a recipient of two BCcampus grants and two TRU grants. For my first project, I adopted an open textbook for the Advanced Algebra level. I piloted the use of OER in my MATH 0510 Algebra 2 course, which is provincially articulated as the Advanced Algebraic course. For my second project, I adapted an open textbook for the Intermediate Algebra level. In 2019, I received an OER BCcampus grant ($1,000), and in 2020, an Education and Social Work Dean’s Research Grant ($4,000) to develop an open textbook for the Intermediate Algebra level. My open textbook, Introductory Algebra, was published on March 26, 2021, and it is now available in the BCcampus catalog. My last OER development was to create an open textbook for Advanced Business Technical Math. I was working on this project with Kim Moshenko, my TRU UEPrep colleague. In 2019, I received an OER BCcampus grant ($1,000) to create six groups of learning outcomes organized in chapters in the textbook. To further support our project, we received the TRU OER Developmental Grant ($5,000) in 2020 to hire research assistants. Our open textbook, Business/Technical Mathematics, was published in September 2021.


There is no doubt that my OER accomplishments were instrumental in the fulfillment of my teaching and service departmental standards for tenure and promotion to the rank of associate teaching professor. I will share some examples of promotion criteria from the UEPrep standards that I made detailed arguments for in my application for promotion.

When adopting, adapting, and developing OER, I have been fully engaged with the curriculum design and revision at both the local and provincial levels. I worked with the ABE curriculum and the BC Articulation Guide to make sure that the coursework that I developed covers all articulated learning outcomes and is a quality resource for other ABE educators. When first adopting OER, I was lucky enough to find a quality open textbook that covered most of the outcomes, but I still had to create supplementary materials, cover missing outcomes, and create my own resources for the assessment. I developed the trigonometry chapter and created a corresponding workbook where students can work through the examples. I included real-life examples and replaced locations listed in examples with names of places in British Columbia. When adapting and creating OER, the work was more substantial and challenging, as I had to create a lot of new content, since there was no open content that I could adapt.

My work on the adaptation of the open textbook, Introductory Algebra, and my contributions to open education were awarded in April 2021, with the BCcampus Excellence in Open Education. Winning the BCcampus award helped me demonstrate my excellence in course development. Furthermore, the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education was evidence that my enthusiasm, dedication, and perseverance in open education was recognized provincially. One of the supporting letters stated, “As a result of all her marvelous work, Izabela very deservingly won the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education.”

When mentoring other faculty members, teaching and service roles overlap. Over the years, I have had many opportunities to share my instructional and curricular knowledge and resources with my ABE colleagues across BC. In a letter supporting my application for tenure and promotion, it stated, “She has been a tremendous resource and support to other instructors who are adapting or creating resources.”

When working on my OER projects, finding the time and learning about Pressbooks and Latex was challenging. Thanks to the TRU Dean’s Research grant, I was able to hire two research assistants to help me with Latex. They both were grateful for all the support, mentoring, and experience. One of the comments from my annual professional report was “Your willingness to work with students as research assistants in relation to OER also demonstrates your commitment to teaching others and learning from others.”

Looking back on my projects, the development of the resources has not always been easy; however, it has been very rewarding. I learned a great deal from others while mentoring and providing support. For example, as the math lead at the ABE ZTC Committee, I took an active role in guiding the direction of the project. I worked as a consultant between BCcampus and the applicants for math OER proposals, reviewing proposals and giving recommendations. I was fully engaged in the work of this committee and used my curricular knowledge and expertise to guide this project. Reflecting on my contributions, one commented, “As the mathematics subject lead, her contributions on this committee were fundamental to guiding the direction of the ABE ZTC project.”

In 2019, I served as a reviewer for two open textbooks: Intermediate Algebra and Algebra and Trigonometry. I reviewed those open textbooks, filled in rubrics, and gave recommendations. I also reviewed and provided recommendations for work submitted for the OER proposals.

My advocacy for OER also gave me a great opportunity to seek and accept opportunities to share curricular knowledge at the local, regional, and provincial levels. In 2021, I accepted many opportunities to share my curricular knowledge at the local and provincial levels. In February 2021, I copresented “Breaking Barriers to Embrace Open Educational Resources” at TRU Teaching Practice Colloquium. Later in March, I was an invited panelist that presented “My OER Journey” during the TRU Open Educational Resources Showcase. I next presented “Using Open Educational Resources (OER) in Your Teaching” for the Adult Basic Education Association of British Columbia Conference in April 2021. Lastly, I was an invited panelist and presented “My OER Journey” in June 2021 at the BCcampus Adult Basic Education Open Educational Resources Showcase.

My involvement with OER provided professional service to the public with many contributions through presentations as previously stated above. Following my BCcampus Excellence in Open Education Award, I was invited to contribute to an interview with TRU Newsroom and an interview with NL Radio. I was also featured on the website of the BCcampus News.


There have been many rewards and positive outcomes resulting from my involvement with OERs that were crucial in providing evidence in my tenure and promotion application. First, my hard work and dedication toward these OER projects have resulted in more than $70,000 in savings for TRU students. Not only have I published two OER textbooks; I also provided instructors with an alternative quality free resource and students with free access to education resources, which gives me a great deal of satisfaction. My OER development contributed to student success and more accessible education. Here is one of the supporting comments: “I believe that Izabela’s passion for both her students’ academic success and helping reduce the cost of their education helps fuel her drive for creating high-quality and accessible resources.” Another supporting comment from my promotion portfolio is “Congratulations on the publishing of your OER textbook for Intermediate Algebra as well as being a recipient of the BCcampus Excellence in Open Education Award. Both of those accomplishments are outstanding and to know you are about to have a 2nd OER published shows your dedication to ensuring that students have access to education. You should be proud of these accomplishments!” The BCcampus statistics indicate that the textbook has been well used. Shortly after my first textbook was published, I received an email saying, “I wanted to let you know that I will be piloting your textbook for intermediate math this fall with my classes. You have done such a fabulous job and the tremendous work you have put-in is reflected by the text!… I am planning to create an online course with it.”

My involvement with OER development broadens my sphere of influence on the local and provincial levels. It gave me opportunities to seek and accept two local and two provincial opportunities to share my instructional and curricular knowledge in the development of OERs. I grew professionally. One of the comments from a supporting letter summarizes very well my professional growth, stating, “Being awarded the April BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education reflects your ongoing professional growth as a post-secondary educator. You have gained the respect of your provincial ABE math colleagues, and, as a result, your work has made TRU the leading-edge ABE Open Ed Math developer in BC.”


As a result of my experience with OER and my successful application for tenure and promotion, I argue that OER contribution needs to be appropriately valued in the process of tenure and promotion. It would be beneficial for OER to be embedded in institutional or departmental standards. After my experience, my recommendation to the committee that currently works on our departmental standards is to include the use of OER in both teaching and service standards. I am hopeful that they will implement my suggestions based on my experience in this area. This will enable future applicants to not be afraid to highlight OER in their tenure and promotion portfolio.

Even though my tenure and promotion was successful, I am continuing my work in OER by improving my existing OER. I am also being supported by the Education and Social Work (EDSW) dean’s office to create an open textbook for provincial-level algebra and trigonometry. I still feel that more advocacy and more financial commitment to open education activities are needed. It would be great if in the future we would have an OER community where there will be countless opportunities for collaboration and research for open education activities.


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Valuing OER in the Tenure, Promotion, and Reappointment Process Copyright © 2024 by Izabela Mazur is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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