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Open Educational Resources (OER)

A guide for faculty to find OER & no-cost materials

The Research and OER

A Look at the Research

  • California Community Colleges $5 million in state funding was allocated in 2017 to launch the Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) degree initiative with the primary goal of increasing student success through reducing cost barriers. It would enable 23 colleges to develop 34 degree or certificate pathways where textbook costs had been completely eliminated through the use of OER or materials that were zero cost to students. Increased success rates were observed for all students in classes using OER or zero cost materials, especially for minorities and students receiving Pell grants.

  • The Florida Virtual Campus has conducted four surveys  of students in Florida public colleges and universities (2010, 2012, 2016, 2018), finding that the high cost of textbooks is negatively impacting student access, success, and completion in a variety of ways.

  • In 2017, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and the Washington Community & Technical Colleges Student Association (WACTCSA) partnered to conduct a survey of over 10,000 Washington state community and technical college students. One goal of this survey was to explore the influence of course materials costs on student enrollment decisions.

  • CSU Channel Islands’ openCI initiative recently completed a campus-wide study of over 700 undergraduate students. This is a unique study because it focuses on exploring the impact of textbook costs specifically on historically underserved populations. Statistical analysis revealed textbook prices to be a significant educational barrier for all CSUCI students, with a disproportionately negative effect among racial/ethnic minorities, low-income students, and first-generation college students.

  • The University of Georgia Study

In July 2018, a large-scale study  was published that examined the impact of OER on student success metrics. The study evaluated the academic performance of 22,137 students in nine different courses at the University of Georgia. Each of these courses was taught by a professor who switched from a commercial textbook costing $100 or more to a free, open textbook from OpenStax.

  • Key Findings- the results demonstrate that OER adoption does much more than save students money. OER also impact student learning, completion, and attainment gaps by improving end-of-course grades and decreasing DFW (D, F, and Withdrawal letter grades) rates. More specifically:
    • OER improve end-of-course grades for all students
    • OER improve course grades at greater rates for non-white and Pell-eligible students, part-time students, and populations historically underserved by higher education
    • OER decrease DFW rates for all students
    • OER decrease DFW rates at greater rates for non-white and Pell-eligible students, part-time students, and populations historically underserved by higher education