In this article, Hendricks et al (2017) examine the cost savings, learning outcomes, use, and perceptions of OER in a Canadian university after an introductory physics course switched to an open website as the central material for the class. Savings: The authors find that the each student saved ~$100 in textbook costs, which corresponds with $64,000 in total savings when extended to the 856 students that took the course in the 2015-16. Outcomes: The studies find that there was no significant change in letter grade distribution after the change to OER. However, the study found that there was a small, statistically significant decrease in the problem solving category of the pre/post Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey. The authors suggest that this could have been related to (1) a contemporaneous decrease in the incentive to do homework, (2) a contemporaneous decrease in the amount of feedback provided on homework, and (3) the textbook itself, although the authors "do not think that the textbook has a significant influence on the students' problem solving ability and confidence" (p. 10). Perceptions: 72% of students reported that the OER textbook was the same as other textbooks in other courses; 21% said it was better. Additionally, when asked about the importance of various features of the physics textbook, students highlighted the fact that readings were customized specifically to the course, "which is made possible by the use of a textbook with an open license" (abstract).
Christina Hendricks, Stefan A. Reinsberg, Georg Rieger
Primary educational sector