Using Open Educational Resources (OER) is not just about inexpensive textbook alternatives, it is about advancing student retention, grades, and graduation rates. Given UMBC’s Mission and Vision to “advance knowledge, economic prosperity, and social justice,” OER is a movement well situated to do just that.
With the OER movement declared by EDUCAUSE as a key strategic priority in 2019, and now one in ten faculty nationally reported as using OER, there is an increase in quality OER textbooks and course materials available to review and adopt.
In the recent Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey in Florida, researchers found that students used a variety of cost saving methods to avoid paying the full price of course material costs, such as renting copies for the semester and sharing with a classmate. When students were asked about the academic impact of textbook costs, 64.2% reported not purchasing the required course materials, 42.7% enrolled in fewer courses, 35.6% “earned a poor grade because they could not afford to buy the textbook,” and 22.9% dropped a course due to textbook cost (Florida Virtual Campus, 2019, pp. 13-14).
While lowering course material costs is certainly a goal of the OER movement, the greater purpose is to ensure student academic success. Researchers at the University of Georgia (Colvard, et. al. 2018) who examined student performance from 2010 to 2016 in eight undergraduate courses with both OER course sections and non-OER course sections found that student grades in the OER sections increased for all student populations considered (full-time, part-time, white, non-white, and Pell-grant recipients). At the same time, the rate of students who received grades of D, F, or W (Withdrawal), decreased for part-time, white, non-white, and Pell-grant recipients in the OER sections. It is significant to note that traditionally underserved student populations (non-white, part-time and Pell-grant recipients) showed the greatest increases in grades and decreases in DFW with the OER adoption. The findings indicate that “OER is an equity strategy for higher education: providing all students with access to course materials on the first day of class serves to level the academic playing field in course settings” (Colvard, et. al., 2018, p. 273).
Want to learn more about OER? Feel free to check out the OER online guide: lib.guides.umbc.edu/OER
Interested in OER training workshops or in joining an OER interest group on campus? Please indicate on the OER interest google form: tinyurl.com/UMBC-OER
Erin Durham, MA, MM, MLIS
Reference & Instruction Faculty Librarian
410-455-3592 | firstname.lastname@example.org