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Open Education and Textbook Affordability at Shoreline CC

OER - Open Educational Resources: Research

Given the recent interest in open educational resources, the research landscape in this field is constantly changing. We've compiled a selective list of articles covering a variety of OER-related topics, most of which are accessible online. 

Articles have been divided into three categories: impact, cost savings, and creation and publication.

This page is an adaptation of: Collister, Lauren. “LibGuides: OER - Open Educational Resources: Research.” Accessed May 5, 2022.


Colvard, Nicholas, and C. Edward Watson. "The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics." International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30.2 (2018): 262-275.

Investigated benefits for using OER beyond cost savings. Nearly 22,000 students were studied between 2010 and 2016, about half in non-OER classes and half in OER classes. In addition to cost savings of more than $3 million, study found that OER significantly improved outcomes in courses for underserved populations: students who received Pell Grants, non-White students and part-time students. 

Feldstein, Andrew, Mirta Martin, Amy Hudson, Kiara Warren, John Hilton III, and David Wiley. "Open Textbooks And Increased Student Access And Outcomes." European Journal Of Open, Distance And E-Learning 2 (2012): ERIC. Web.

Core business courses at Virginia State University replaced traditional textbooks with OER content, resulting in more students accessing the textbook (compared to sales of hard copies) and higher grades. Students surveyed reported very high satisfaction with OER materials.

Fischer, Lane. John Hilton III, T. Jared Robinson, and David Wiley. "A Multi-Institutional Study of the Impact of Open Textbook Adoption on the Learning Outcomes of Post-Secondary Students." Journal of Computing in Higher Education 27.3 (December 2015): 159-172. Web.

Research study across multiple institutions on the efficacy of OER materials in undergraduate classes. Students assigned to OER materials had more favorable outcomes in several areas including course completion rates, course grades, and enrollment in future courses.

Hilton, John. “Open Educational Resources, Student Efficacy, and User Perceptions: A Synthesis of Research Published between 2015 and 2018.” Educational Technology Research and Development 68, no. 3 (June 1, 2020): 853–76.

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.

Cost Savings


A New Method for Estimating OER Savings - SPARC.” Accessed May 5, 2022.

"While there is broad agreement that OER saves students money, there is less agreement over exactly how much. Some say savings should be based on the sticker price of traditional materials, others on estimated student spending, and there are various levels of complexity in methodologies to account for associated costs, student behavior, and price fluctuations. What we found was that on average, students save $116.94 per course when OER is adopted in place of traditional textbooks."

Hilton III, John, Donna Gaudet, Phil Clark, Jared Robinson, and David Wiley. "The Adoption of Open Educational Resources by One Community College Math Department." The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning [Online], 14.4 (2013): n. pag. Web.

Community college students and faculty react favorably to the use of OER texts in five different math classes. OER adoption is credited with significant cost savings for students. Student success and completion rates were relatively unchanged; authors suggest further research is needed to determine impact of OER on student learning.

Hilton III, John, and Carol Laman. "One College’s Use Of An Open Psychology Textbook." Open Learning 27.3 (2012): 265-272. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Students using OER outperformed peers using traditional course materials in an introductory psychology class at Houston Community College. Thorough discussion of cost savings for community college students when OER materials are adopted.

Hilton III, John, T. Jared Robinson, David Wiley, and J. Dale Ackerman. "Cost-Savings Achieved in Two Semesters Through the Adoption of Open Educational Resources." The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 15.2 (2014). Web.

Students enjoyed significant savings in eight colleges where OER materials were used. Study data and comparisons to traditional textbook prices are examined.


Creation and Publication

Carrol, Alex. “When the Textbook You Need Hasn’t Been Written yet.” NC State University Libraries, 2017.

"What teaching resources do you use in a field so emergent that the textbooks aren’t written yet? College of Textiles professor Martin W. King faced that question for his undergraduate Biotextile Product Development course (MT 366)."

Sutton, Shan C., and Faye A. Chadwell. "Open Textbooks At Oregon State University: A Case Study Of New Opportunities For Academic Libraries And University Presses." Journal Of Librarianship & Scholarly Communication 4.4 (2014): 34-48. Academic Search Premier. Web.

A joint undertaking in open textbook authorship and publishing between Oregon State University Libraries and OSU’s Extended Campus (eCampus). Article highlights issues of libraries as content creators/managers, the role of the OSU Press, adoption of OER materials, and next steps for the project moving forward. Authors recommend inter-institutional collaboration in creating OER texts to avoid duplication of effort and to reach the most users.

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