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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Research on Open Educational Resources

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. Items marked with an asterisk are available through PCC Library databases. After clicking the title link, follow the prompt to log in.

Articles have been divided into five categories: OER in STEM classes, perceptions of OER, impact, cost savings, and authoring/publication.

Student & Instructor Perceptions of OER

Bliss, T.J., John Hilton III, David Wiley, and Kim Thanos. (2013) The Cost and Quality of Online Open Textbooks: Perceptions of Community College Faculty and StudentsFirst Monday, 18.1, n. pag. 

Studied satisfaction rates and perceptions of OER in a community college population. Generally, the open textbooks used in this study were well received, but issues with technology or flawed OER texts result in negative perceptions by students.

Bliss, T., Robinson, T. J., Hilton, J., & Wiley, D. (2013). An OER COUP: College Teacher and Student Perceptions of Open Educational Resources. Journal of Interactive Media in Education.

Student and instructor perceptions of OER at 8 community colleges.

Hilton III, John. (2016)  Open Educational Resources and College Textbook Choices: A Review of Research on Efficacy and PerceptionsEducational Technology Research & Development, 64.1, 1-18. 

Reviews sixteen studies about the efficacy and perception of OER in higher education. Concludes that when OER materials are used students achieve on par with traditional textbooks, save money, and come away with positive feelings about OER materials. 

Florida Virtual Campus. (2012) 2012 Florida Student Textbook Survey.  

A large multi-campus survey of college students in Florida to assess student attitudes and preferences about course materials. Findings show a clear preference for free and low cost course materials, as well as the impact of high-cost textbooks. 

Jin, Yu-Ju, and Hengtao Tang. (2017) Exploring Student Perceptions of the Use of Open Educational Resources to Reduce Statistics AnxietyJournal of Formative Design in Learning, 1-16. 

Studies the impact of OER adoption on student anxiety experienced in statistics courses. The study found a positive effect on student anxiety levels when the studied OER were used.  


*Armellini, Alejandro, and Ming Nie. (2013) Open Educational Practices For Curriculum EnhancementOpen Learning, 28.1, 7-20.  

Reports on open educational practices (OEP) and the adoption and adaptation of OER in UK universities. Suggests ways institutions can support the use and creation of OER, with the goal of making OER adoption more sustainable and widespread.

Bowen, W. G., Chingos, M. M., Lack, K. A., & Nygren, T. I. (2012).Interactive Learning Online at Public Universities: Evidence from Randomized Trials. Ithaka S+R.

Examines the efficacy of an online/hybrid course in a variety of educational settings and diverse student populations.

Feldstein, Andrew, Mirta Martin, Amy Hudson, Kiara Warren, John Hilton III, and David Wiley. (2012) Open Textbooks And Increased Student Access And OutcomesEuropean Journal Of Open, Distance And E-Learning.

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. (2015) 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, 159-172.

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.

Pawlyshyn, Nancy, Dr. Braddlee, Linda Casper, and Howard Miller. (2013) Adopting OER: A Case Study of Cross-Institutional Collaboration and InnovationEducause Review. 

Implementing OER in an underperforming first-year seminar at Mercy College (NY)  boosts student retention and learning. Faculty collaboration, excitement, and innovation are credited with a successful and quick implementation. Instructional design, assessment, implementation issues, and recommendations are discussed.

Petrides, L., Jimes, C., Middleton‚ÄźDetzner, C., Walling, J., & Weiss, S. (2011). Open textbook adoption and use: Implications for teachers and learners. Open Learning, 26(1), 39-49.

Findings from a study of the Community College Open Textbook Project, including cost savings to students and new ways of developing curriculum for instructors.

Pitt, R., Ebrahimi, N., McAndrew, P., & Coughlan, T. (2013). Assessing OER impact across organizations and learners: experiences from the Bridge to Success project. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2013(3).

Examines impact of OER adoption in math classes at community colleges in the US. The study utilized diverse data including student learning outcomes, interviews and questionnaires, and course evaluations.

Cost Savings

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

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. (2012) One College’s Use Of An Open Psychology TextbookOpen Learning, 27.3, 265-272. 

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. (2014)  Cost-Savings Achieved in Two Semesters Through the Adoption of Open Educational ResourcesThe International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15.2. 

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

Student PIRGs. "Covering the Cost: Why We Can No Longer Afford to Ignore High Textbook Prices."  February 2016. 

Findings of a national survey of college students demonstrates the impact of costly textbooks on students and highlights the urgent need to move to free and low cost course materials. 

OER in STEM Classes

Allen, G., Guzman-Alvarez, A., Molinaro, M., Larsen, D. (2015). Assessing the Impact and Efficacy of the Open-Access ChemWiki Textbook ProjectEducause Learning Initiative Brief, January 2015.

Assesses the success and future of an open Chemistry resource at University of California Davis.

Lindshield, B., & Adhikari, K. (2013). Online and Campus College Students Like Using an Open Educational Resource Instead of a Traditional Textbook. Journal of Online Learning & Teaching, (1), 1–7.

Measures satisfaction with a “flexbook” OER used in online and face-to-face sections of a Human Nutrition class.

Robinson T. J., Fischer, L., Wiley, D. A., & Hilton, J. (2014). The impact of open textbooks on secondary science learning outcomes. Educational Researcher, 43(7): 341-351.

A study of high school students using OER for science classes found that they performed better on exams than their peers using traditional course materials.

*Scanlon, Eileen. (2012)  Open Educational Resources In Support Of Science Learning: Tools For Inquiry And ObservationDistance Education, 33.2, 221-236. 

Discusses how OER contributes to scientific literacy and the general public good, while also raising questions about how uneven access to technology limits OER’s impact. Provides case studies of two OER platforms (nQuire and iSpot).

Authoring & Publication

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

A joint undertaking in open textbook authorship and publishing between Oregon State University Libraries and OSU’s Extended Campus (e-Campus). 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.

OER Links

Selected links from around the web:

OER Research Hub - This organization, based at London's Open University, researches several aspects of OER, including student performance, retention, impact on teaching, and assessment.

Open Education Group Review Project - conducts and publishes original research on the costs, efficacy, and adoption of OER. Links to a bibliography of OER articles and dissertations authored by researchers affiliated with the project. Primary researchers are Lane Fischer, John Hilton III, and David Wiley (all represented in the above bibliography). 

Dept. of Education's Office of Educational Technology - News on federal initiatives, publications, and policies supporting open education.

Make Textbooks Affordable - A major campaign by the Student PIRGs to highlight the advantages of OER to students. 

Opening the Curriculum - detailed findings from the Babson Research Group (2014) about the current state of OER in higher ed. Includes helpful data on faculty awareness of OER and licensing, barriers to implementation, and a comparison of OER with traditional learning objects.