Rapidly rising costs, including the cost of textbooks, impede access to higher education for many students, particularly among underserved and at-risk populations. The STEMWiki Hyperlibrary was initiated by the University of California, Davis, to reduce this growing educational cost in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The ChemWiki is the primary and most developed component of the Hyperlibrary project, which includes five other STEMWikis. When sufficiently developed, the Hyperlibrary will be leveraged as a platform for the dissemination of content and evaluation of emerging education technologies and pedagogies. Because the ChemWiki modules are hyperlinked both internally and externally to the modules within the other STEMWikis, students are exposed to a wide range of content at varying levels of difficulty, which allows for the simultaneous instruction of students with diverse backgrounds and performance.
Online learning is quickly gaining in importance in U.S. higher education, but little rigorous evidence exists as to its effect on student learning outcomes. In “Interactive Learning Online at Public Universities: Evidence from Randomized Trials,” we measure the effect on learning outcomes of a prototypical interactive learning online (ILO) statistics course by randomly assigning students on six public university campuses to take the course in a hybrid format (with machine-guided instruction accompanied by one hour of face-to-face instruction each week) or a traditional format (as it is usually offered by their campus, typically with 3-4 hours of face-to-face instruction each week).
We find that learning outcomes are essentially the same—that students in the hybrid format “pay no price” for this mode of instruction in terms of pass rates, final exam scores, and performance on a standardized assessment of statistical literacy. These zero-difference coefficients are precisely estimated. We also conduct speculative cost simulations and find that adopting hybrid models of instruction in large introductory courses have the potential to significantly reduce instructor compensation costs in the long run.
Online instruction is quickly gaining in importance in U.S. higher education, but little rigorous evidence exists as to its effect on student learning. We measure the effect on learning outcomes of a prototypical interactive learning online statistics course by randomly assigning students on six public university campuses to take the course in a hybrid format (with machine-guided instruction accompanied by one hour of face-to-face instruction each week) or a traditional format (as it is usually offered by their campus, typically with about three hours of face-to-face instruction each week). We find that learning outcomes are essentially the same-that students in the hybrid format are not harmed by this mode of instruction in terms of pass rates, final exam scores, and performance on a standardized assessment of statistical literacy. We also conduct speculative cost simulations and find that adopting hybrid models of instruction in large introductory courses has the potential to significantly reduce instructor compensation costs in the long run.
There are multiple indicators which suggest that completion, quality, and affordability are the three greatest challenges for higher education today in terms of students, student learning, and student success. Many colleges, universities, and state systems are seeking to adopt a portfolio of solutions that address these challenges. This article reports the results of a large-scale study (21,822 students) regarding the impact of course-level faculty adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER). Results indicate that OER adoption does much more than simply save students money and address student debt concerns. OER improve end-of-course grades and decrease DFW (D, F, and Withdrawal letter grades) rates for all students. They also improve course grades at greater rates and decrease DFW rates at greater rates for Pell recipient students, part-time students, and populations historically underserved by higher education. OER address affordability, completion, attainment gap concerns, and learning. These findings contribute to a broadening perception of the value of OERs and their relevance to the great challenges facing higher education today.
This study reports findings from a year-long pilot study during which 991 students in 9 core courses in the Virginia State University School of Business replaced traditional textbooks with openly licensed books and other digital content. The university made a deliberate decision to use open textbooks that were copyrighted under the Creative Commons license. This decision was based on the accessibility and flexibility in the delivery of course content provided by open textbooks. More students accessed digital open textbooks than had previously purchased hard copies of textbooks. Higher grades were correlated with courses that used open textbooks.
Learning and teaching processes are continually changing. Therefore, design of learning technologies has gained interest in educators and educational institutions from secondary school to higher education. This paper describes the successfully use in education of social learning technologies and virtual laboratories designed by the authors, as well as videos developed by the students. These tools, combined with other open educational resources based on a blended-learning methodology, have been employed to teach the subject of Computer Networks. We have verified not only that the application of OERs into the learning process leads to a significantly improvement of the assessments, but also that the combination of several OERs enhances their effectiveness. These results are supported by, firstly, a study of both students’ opinion and students’ behaviour over five academic years, and, secondly, a correlation analysis between the use of OERs and the grades obtained by students.
Open Educational Resources (OER) have been lauded for their ability to reduce student costs and improve equity in higher education. Research examining whether OER provides learning benefits have produced mixed results, with most studies showing null effects. We argue that the common methods used to examine OER efficacy are unlikely to detect positive effects based on predictions of the access hypothesis. The access hypothesis states that OER benefits learning by providing access to critical course materials, and therefore predicts that OER should only benefit students who would not otherwise have access to the materials. Through the use of simulation analysis, we demonstrate that even if there is a learning benefit of OER, standard research methods are unlikely to detect it.
Although textbooks are a traditional component in many higher education contexts, their increasing price have led many students to forgo purchasing them and some faculty to seek substitutes. One such alternative is open educational resources (OER). This present study synthesizes results from sixteen efficacy and twenty perceptions studies involving 121,168 students or faculty that examine either (1) OER and student efficacy in higher education settings or (2) the perceptions of college students and/or instructors who have used OER. Results across these studies suggest students achieve the same or better learning outcomes when using OER while saving significant amounts of money. The results also indicate that the majority of faculty and students who have used OER had a positive experience and would do so again.
The high cost of textbooks is of concern not only to college students but also to society as a whole. Open textbooks promise the same educational benefits as traditional textbooks; however, their efficacy remains largely untested. We report on one community college’s adoption of a free online psychology textbook. During the fall semester, 2011, 690 students used this book. Compared to students using a traditional text in the spring of 2011, students who used the free online textbook scored higher on departmental final exams, had higher GPAs in the class and higher retention rates.
The high cost of textbooks is of concern not only to college students but also to society as a whole. Open textbooks promise the same educational benefits as traditional textbooks; however, their efficacy remains largely untested. We report on one community college’s adoption of a collection of open resources across five different mathematics classes. During the 2012 fall semester, 2,043 students in five different courses used these open access resources. We present a comparison between the previous two years in terms of the number of students who withdrew from the courses and the number that completed the courses with a C grade or better. Our analysis suggests that while there was likely no change in these educational outcomes, students who have access to open access materials collectively saved a significant amount of money. Students and faculty were surveyed as to their perceptions of these materials and the results were generally favorable.
Open Educational Resources (OER) have the potential to replace traditional textbooks in higher education. Previous studies indicate that use of OER results in high student and faculty satisfaction, lower costs, and similar or better educational outcomes. In this case study, we compared students using traditional textbooks with those using OER at Tidewater Community College to compare their performance on what we call course throughput rates, which is an aggregate of three variables – drop rates, withdrawal rates, and C or better rates. Two self-selecting cohorts were compared over four semesters, with statistically significant results. The study found that, subject to the limitations discussed, students who use OER perform significantly better on the course throughput rate than their peers who use traditional textbooks, in both face-to-face and online courses that use OER. This suggests that OER are a promising avenue for reducing the costs of higher education while increasing academic success.
The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) is an open educational resources project at Carnegie Mellon University that began in 2002 with a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. OLI creates web-based courses that are designed so that students can learn effectively without an instructor. In addition, the courses are often used by instructors to support and complement face-to-face classroom instruction. Our evaluation efforts have investigated OLI coursesâ€™ effectiveness in both of these instructional modes â€“ stand-alone and hybrid.
This report documents several learning effectiveness studies that were focused on the OLI-Statistics course and conducted during Fall 2005, Spring 2006, and Spring 2007. During the Fall 2005 and Spring 2006 studies, we collected empirical data about the instructional effectiveness of the OLI-Statistics course in stand-alone mode, as compared to traditional instruction. In both of these studies, in-class exam scores showed no significant difference between students in the stand-alone OLI-Statistics course and students in the traditional instructor-led course. In contrast, during the Spring 2007 study, we explored an accelerated learning hypothesis, namely, that learners using the OLI course in hybrid mode will learn the same amount of material in a significantly shorter period of time with equal learning gains, as compared to students in traditional instruction. In this study, results showed that OLI-Statistics students learned a full semesterâ€™s worth of material in half as much time and performed as well or better than students learning from traditional instruction over a full semester.
Nancy Pawlyshyn is special academic officer to the dean of the College of Professional Studies and full-time faculty in higher education leadership at Northeastern University, Boston, and an educational assessment and accreditation consultant. Dr. Braddlee is dean of Learning and Technology Resources, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale. Linda Casper is assistant professor of Mathematics and Computer Information Science, and Howard Miller is professor of literacy education and chair of Secondary Education, both at Mercy College. They serve as Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative Faculty Fellows.
The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether the adoption of Open Educational Resources had a significant effect on student learning outcomes in seven courses taught at seven post-secondary institutions. The use of open educational resources (OER) is increasing in the United States. Initiatives focusing on expanding the use of OER as a replacement for traditional textbooks at the post-secondary level include OpenStax, Project Kaleidoscope, Open Course Library, and others. While researchers have begun to explore OER, few have sought to evaluate the quality of OER as a function of student academic success. In this dissertation, I examined measures of student success in seven courses at seven different early-adopters of Project Kaleidoscope where faculty members chose to adopt OER to replace traditional textbooks. The sample for this study consisted of students using open textbooks in courses at seven Project Kaleidoscope post-secondary institutions, as well as a control group of students at those same institutions who used traditional textbooks in sections of the same courses. I used an ex-post-facto quasi-experimental design, in which I compared students using OER to students using traditional textbooks in comparable courses. In order to control for the threat of selection bias, I used propensity score matching (PSM) to match treatment and control groups on a set of demographic variables. After creating matched treatment and control groups, I used multiple regression and logistic regression to examine whether textbook selection predicts a measurable difference in student achievement after accounting for relevant covariates. I found that students using open textbooks earned, on average, lower grades than students who used traditional textbooks, after controlling for student-level and course-level covariates. Further analysis revealed that this negative differential was isolated to students in business and psychology classes. I also found that students who used open textbooks enrolled in more credits than students using traditional textbooks, controlling for relevant covariates. Because of the finding of a variation in textbook effect from course to course, future studies may seek to understand the effects of particular OER adoption instances rather than the global effect of OER adoption.
Given the increasing costs associated with commercial textbooks and decreasing financial support of public schools, it is important to better understand the impacts of open educational resources on student outcomes. The purpose of this quantitative study is to analyze whether the adoption of open science textbooks significantly affects science learning outcomes for secondary students in earth systems, chemistry, and physics.
This study uses a quantitative quasi-experimental design with propensity score matched groups and multiple regression to examine whether student learning was influenced by the adoption of open textbooks instead of traditional publisher-produced textbooks. Students who used open textbooks scored .65 points higher on end-of-year state standardized science tests than students using traditional textbooks when controlling for the effects of 10 student and teacher covariates. Further analysis revealed statistically significant positive gains for students using the open chemistry textbooks, with no significant difference in student scores for earth systems of physics courses. Although the effect size of the gains were relatively small, and not consistent across all textbooks, the finding that open textbooks can be as effective or even slightly more effective than their traditional counterparts has important considerations in terms of school district policy in a climate of finite educational funding.
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 13 (3), pp. 261-276.
Proponents of open educational resources claim that significant cost savings are possible when open textbooks displace traditional textbooks in the classroom. Over a period of two years, we worked with 20 middle and high school science teachers (collectively teaching approximately 3,900 students) who adopted open textbooks to understand the process and determine the overall cost of such an adoption. The teachers deployed open textbooks in multiple ways. Some of these methods cost more than traditional textbooks; however, we did identify and implement a successful model of open textbook adoption that reduces costs by over 50% compared to the cost of adopting traditional textbooks. In addition, we examined the standardized test scores of students using the open textbooks and found no apparent differences in the results of students who used open textbooks compared with previous years when the same teachers’ students used traditional textbooks. However, given the limited sample of participating teachers, further investigation is needed.
Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) is Utah’s largest open enrollment college, and as an institution, is concerned about the expense associated with attaining a degree. All students face challenges in paying for their education, but SLCC students tend to have fewer resources to dedicate to school than students at other institutions in the state. While faculty and administrators have little control over the rising cost of tuition, they are able to offer students open educational resources (OER) to cut down on textbook costs. Salt Lake Community College’s OER initiative was implemented in Summer 2014, and has since expanded to include 125 sections in Spring 2016. We examine OER’s impact on three measures of student success: course grade, likelihood of passing, and likelihood of withdrawing. We use a multilevel modeling (MLM) approach in order to control for student, instructor, and course effects, and found no difference between courses using OER and traditional textbooks for continuing students. For new students, there is evidence that OER increases average grade. However, student-level differences such as demographic background and educational experience have a far greater impact on course grade and likelihood of passing or withdrawing than an instructor’s use of an OER text. Future research should focus on longer-term impacts of OER on retention, completion, and transfer.