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Workshop: Intro to OER: Using Open Educational Resources @ NJIT: Examples - Research from the field

This interactive session will help you get started finding good quality free or inexpensive web or library information sources for teaching in your subject area. Learn about the NJIT OAT initiative to support faculty in adopting OERs. Bring your syllabus


Hendricks, C., Reinsberg, S. A., & Rieger, G. W. (2017). The Adoption of an Open Textbook in a Large Physics Course: An Analysis of Cost, Outcomes, Use, and Perceptions. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning18(4).  (full text)

Assigning open textbooks in college and university courses can help students save money on increasingly expensive commercial textbooks, and recent research shows that this savings can often be achieved with little to no sacrifice in textbook quality or student learning outcomes. We add to this body of research by examining the use of an open textbook in an introductory physics course at a large research university in Canada that enrols approximately 800-900 students per year. In this course, the instructors revised an open textbook and combined it with other learning resources onto a single website, whereas more than one source of learning materials was used previously. We used the COUP framework to structure our analysis, focusing on cost, outcomes, use, and perceptions in relation to the open textbook assigned in the course. Through the use of a survey of students and data about student learning outcomes in the form of final exam and course grades, and shifts on the pre-/post- Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey, we show that student savings by moving to an open textbook were accompanied by little change in learning outcomes. We also show that the vast majority of survey respondents perceived the open textbook to be of the same or better quality than commercial textbooks used in their other courses. Further, many of them appreciated the fact that the textbook was customized to this particular course—which is made possible by the use of a textbook with an open license. 


Allen, G., Guzman-Alvarez, A., Smith, A., Gamage, A., Molinaro, M., & Larsen, D. S. (2015). Evaluating the effectiveness of the open-access ChemWiki resource as a replacement for traditional general chemistry textbooksChemistry Education Research and Practice16(4), 939-948.  (full text)

Open educational resources (OERs) provide a potential alternative to costly textbooks and can allow content to be edited and adapted to a variety of classroom environments. At the University of California, Davis, the OER ‘‘ChemWiki’’ project, as part of the greater STEMWiki Hyperlibrary, was developed to supplant traditional post-secondary chemistry textbooks. The effectiveness of using this OER was assessed by comparing two general chemistry classes, one using ChemWiki and one using a traditional textbook, during the spring quarter of 2014. Student performance was measured using common midterms, final, and a pre/post content exam. We also employed surveys, the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) for Chemistry, and a weekly time-on-task survey to quantify students’ attitudes and study habits. The effectiveness of the ChemWiki compared to a traditional textbook was examined using multiple linear regression analysis with a standard non-inferiority testing framework. Results show that the performance of students who were assigned readings from the ChemWiki section was non-inferior to the performance of students in the section who were assigned readings from the traditional textbook, indicating that the ChemWiki does not substantially differ from the standard textbook in terms of student learning outcomes. The results from the surveys also suggest that the two classes were similar in their beliefs about chemistry and minimal overall study time. These results indicate that the ChemWiki is a viable cost-saving alternative to traditional textbooks.

LIT REVIEW on OER Outcomes

Hilton, J. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development64(4), 573-590.    (full text)

  • Using OERs does not decrease student learning--students generally did better, not worse when using free OERS compared with expensive textbooks.
  • OERs are generally perceived to be as good as, if not better than traditional textbooks.

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