Regina Gong, OER Project Manager at Lansing Community College, gave a research presentation on the difference between courses using traditional commercial textbooks and open textbooks across four variables (cost, outcomes, usage, and perception).
The researchers developed study questions based on the cost, outcomes, usage, and perception (COUP) framework. The study looked at a population of 6,897 students during academic years 2016-2017. Researchers compared courses using both commercial textbooks (control group) and open textbooks (treatment group) for which the faculty taught the same courses. They compared previous semesters to current semesters that switched to open textbooks.
When looking at cost, researchers examined cost savings incurred by switching to OER. They also examined student cost per textbook or how much students spent on textbooks per term and year.
As researchers looked at outcomes, they looked at grades, withdrawal rate, persistence rate, and overall retention rates.
Researchers wanted to know if there was a higher adoption rate of courses and resources for courses using open textbooks. Specific questions include the intention to register for courses using OER over traditional courses. They also wanted to know if students preferred open textbooks over commercial textbooks.
Finally, how do students and faculty perceive the quality of open textbooks compared to traditional textbooks?
This was a mixed methods study. Researchers collected data through survey instruments sent to faculty and students. Additionally, they pulled data from their student information systems.
By switching to open textbooks, faculty saved students $943,222 during the 2016 and 2017 academic years.
There was no significant difference between completion rates between the control group and the treatment group. Additionally, there was no significant difference in grades, persistence, and retention.
When researchers asked students if they intend to register for courses that use an open textbook, 87% indicated they would. Sixty-one percent said they would choose an open textbook over a non-open textbook course.
When asked about the quality of open textbooks, 96% indicated that the open textbook offered the same or better quality than the non-open textbook.
So far, in their research, they are noticing a higher retention rate (1.5%) compared to those only taking courses with traditional textbooks.
This was an interesting study that helped to support the use of OER in that we could improve the quality of life for students without negatively impacting their learning.