There has been a slow but steady move toward Open Educational Resources (OER textbooks and materials) in the higher ed classroom. Reported by Inside Higher Ed, a new large-scale study by the University of Georgia may help hasten this move. This longitudinal study of more than 21,000 students found that college students provided with free OER course materials at the beginning of a class get significantly better academic results than those who do not, increasing the number of A grades by 13% and decreasing the number of failing and withdrawal students by nearly 3%.
Were the OER textbooks actually BETTER or since they were free, were students simply more likely to utilize them? After all, Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education at SPARC stated, “Students can’t learn from materials they can’t afford.”
The takeaway here? Possibly that making textbooks and learning materials free, something that OER materials are designed for, is an important lever for getting students to succeed in the classroom.
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