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OER / Free Textbook Bibliography

Florida Virtual Campus (2018)  2018 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey.

Survey of students at Florida colleges and universities.  Found that large numbers of students reported responded to textbook costs by not purchasing required materials, taking fewer courses or dropping courses.  Noted a slight decrease in average textbook costs and negative impacts reported since.  Students reported purchasing an average of 3.6 textbooks that they did not use, an increase from both the 2012 (1.6) and 2016 (2.6) surveys. Students also reported increased willingness to rent both print and digital course materials to reduce costs.

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.


Winitzky-Stephens, J., & Pickavance, J. (2017).  Open educational resources and student course outcomes: A multilevel analysis. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 18(4)

This study at a large, non-selective, community college did not show significant differences in most student outcomes between OER and non-OER courses, but did suggest that new students may benefit more from OER (it showed a small but statistically significant increase in new students' grades in OER courses).


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.


Delgado, H., Delgado, M., & Hilton III, J. (2019). On the Efficacy of Open Educational ResourcesThe International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning20(1).

Compared efficacy of OER vs. traditional textbooks in a large sample (1800) of calculus students.  Found fewer withdrawals in the OER course, but slightly lower final grade scores (2%).



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