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Friday, November 13 • 10:30am - 10:55am
Student Textbook Usage in the Age of Skyrocketing Costs: Would OER Help?

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The escalating prices of undergraduate textbooks have dramatically increased student financial burdens in the last 20 years and led many to forgo purchasing required textbooks. Seeking assist students, instructors are increasingly using Open Educational Resources (OER), free online textbooks. However, growing OER usage occurred with another trend, a steady decline in students reading assigned textbooks. Researchers have discovered that up to 78% of undergraduates now do not regularly read assigned textbooks. This raises 3 questions. To what extent is this decline related to high textbook prices? Would providing students free OER materials improve their learning, particularly with regards to doing required readings? If so, could teaching using OER improve student learning?

This presentation is a summary of the findings of a survey study conducted in spring and fall 2020, which tested the validity of two hypotheses: 1. High textbook prices negatively affect students’ reading of required course materials. 2. Instructors can mitigate the problem by using OER to improve students reading. The study surveyed 600 students in 6 courses from a 4-year public research university in South Carolina, which have subjects ranging from English to Engineering. The study compared responses from different student groups: those in STEM courses, where textbooks are generally more expensive, those from other subjects, students at different undergraduate grade levels, from different household income groups, and students from economically disadvantaged ethnic minorities. The survey questionnaire assessed how often these students purchase required textbooks and their reasons for doing so; if and how they complete assigned readings and if this decision has hurt their grades. It seeks to find out if a causal relationship exists between high textbook prices and student ability to purchase these textbooks, their reading of required texts, and how high textbook prices are affecting the reading habits of students from different socio-economic and ethnic groups. The questionnaire also assessed students’ attitudes toward OER compared to traditional textbooks, how different instructors used OER textbooks and if there are certain teaching strategies that led students to actively read them. The presentation analyzes survey results through ANOVA statistical tests and uses them to offer suggestions on how instructors can use OER to better motivate students to do required readings.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Attendees will be introduced to the topic of how students are learning using OER and how effectively they are using them in their studying.

2. Attendees will learn how the high cost of textbooks is shaping the study habits of students from different financial, racial/ethnic and other backgrounds.

3. Attendees will learn what strategies instructors can employ to improve student learning and studying using OER.

avatar for Yang Wu

Yang Wu

Open Resources Librarian, Clemson University

Friday November 13, 2020 10:30am - 10:55am EST
Concurrent 3
  The Field, Presentation