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OER / Free Textbook Bibliography

Cozart, D. L., Horan, E. M., & Frome, G. (2021). Rethinking the Traditional Textbook: A Case for Open Educational Resources (OER) and No-Cost Learning MaterialsTeaching & Learning Inquiry9(2), 1–17. 

A systematic review of 97 peer-reviewed journal articles on OER published between 2002 and 2023;  findings suggested that students and faculty have positive views of OER and believe they are of similar quality to paid instructional materials. Faculty and students reported incentives such as cost savings, accessibility, and increased academic engagement when using OER, but also reported technological and institutional barriers to using and adopting these materials. 


Brandle, S., Katz, S., Hays, A., Beth, A., Cooney, C., DiSanto, J.,. Morrison, A. (2019). But what do the students think: Results of the CUNY cross-campus zero-textbook cost student survey. Open Praxis, 11(1), 85-101. doi:10.5944/openpraxis.11.1.932

Surveyed 883 students across CUNY campuses who were enrolled in ZTC (zero textbook cost) courses.  95% of students surveyed would recommend a ZTC course to their peers.  76% percent found ZTC materials easier to access than traditional textbooks (only 3% found them more difficult than traditional textbooks). 


Colvard, N. B., Watson, C. E., & Park, H. (2018). The impact of open educational resources on various student success metrics. International Journal Of Teaching & Learning In Higher Education, 30(2), 262-276.

This UGA study showed generally higher grades and fewer DFW (drop/fail/withdraw) grades for students after adoption of OER, with greater impact on Pell recipients.


Hilton, J. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: A review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 64(4), 573-590. doi:

This synthesis examined 10 study results on OER perceptions, and 9 results on OER efficacy. Its conclusion on OER perception was that "a strong majority of students and teachers believe that OER are as good or better than traditional textbooks."   It found that evidence on efficacy was mixed ("Three studies reported N.S. Three had results that favored OER. One favored traditional textbooks. Two did not discuss the statistical significance of the results.")   The article observed that "in synthesizing these nine OER efficacy studies, an emerging finding is that utilizing OER does not appear to decrease student learning." The also article noted the methodological difficulties and limitations of the efficacy studies.


Grimaldi PJ, Basu Mallick D, Waters AE, Baraniuk RG (2019) Do open educational resources improve student learning? Implications of the access hypothesis. PLoS ONE 14(3): e0212508.

Critiqued the methodology and statistical power of previous studies on OER efficacy, analyzing their capability to detect a positive effect of OER adoption.  Noted that "the majority of comparisons in the literature find null effects of OER adoption on learning outcomes."  Argues that if the benefits of OER chiefly accrue to students who would not have had access to course texts in non-OER environments, existing studies would not have been able detect those benefits.

Open Stax

OpenStax, based at Rice University, is a nonprofit educational initiative which promotes the use of free, easily accessible textbooks.  Meredith College is now an institutional partner in the OpenStax Institutional Partners Program.  To find out more about this exciting program please contact Angela Robbins, Associate Professor of History, Meredith College.  


More Sources for OER texts

Library Resources for No-Cost Textbooks