by several students who recognized there was “[v]ery little wasted
space or irrelevant information.”
There were several limitations to this study, including a small
sample size. Although my results cannot be extrapolated to other
classrooms, they align with the consensus formed by other research
and further support the notion that a diversity of students hold
favorable opinions of open textbooks. In terms of experimental
design, this study was limited by lack of a control group and it
did not assess the efficacy of open textbooks. Further studies are
needed, especially in the sciences, to determine whether learning
and other measures of academic achievement, such as persistence,
are affected by open textbooks.
Surveys of college faculty show varying degrees of familiarity
with open educational resources (OER). Allen & Seamen (2014)
surveyed 2,144 college faculty across the United States at a variety
of institutional types, including community colleges and four-year
universities, and found that only 34 percent of faculty were aware
of OER. Meanwhile, Chae et al. (2015) surveyed 780 community
and technical college faculty in Washington State and found that
82 percent were familiar with OER. Within the archive of The
American Biology Teacher, I could find no prior mention of OER.
No results were found when using the following search terms:
“open text*”, “free text*”, and “open education* resource*”. Open
textbooks are a promising area in which faculty can make a significant, positive impact on students, especially students from low-income backgrounds. Increased awareness among faculty and additional studies by educational researchers will help determine the
best way to implement this important resource.
This research was supported by a grant from Open Oregon Educational Resources (OOER), which also published my open textbook
on their Pressbooks profile ( https://openoregon.pressbooks.pub/).
Amy Hofer from OOER & Linn Benton Community College provided critical support during development of my open textbook,
and provided valuable feedback on this manuscript. Special thanks
also goes to the reviewers of this manuscript.
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THE AMERICAN BIOLOGY TEACHER VOLUME 80, NO. 6, AUGUST 2018