Fischer, L., Hilton, J., Robinson, J. T., & Wiley, D. A. (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.

doi:10.1007/s12528-015-9101-x


This study sought to uncover whether the adoption of open textbooks significantly contributed to students’ course completion, class achievement, and enrollment intensity during and after semesters of exposure to open educational resources (OER). Utilizing a quantitative, quasi-experimental design with propensity-score matched groups to examine the differences in outcomes between students who did and did not use OER in coursework.

4128 students enrolled in undergraduate courses from four four-year institutions (Chadron State College, Mercy College, Peru, and Pittsburg State University), and 12,599 students from six community colleges (Middlesex Community College, Middle Valley Community College, Onondaga Community College, Santa Ana Community College, Salt Lake Community College, and Tompkins Cortland Community College) comprised the  data set. In favor of clarity of prediction and persistence of outcomes, the researchers used propensity score matching to group like subsets of students in therms of age, gender, and minority status.

This is the largest study of its kind to date, which is important considering the consistency of outcomes found across traditional and open textbook populations. Findings also concluded a clear rise in enrollment intensity among OER classes. Further investigation into the role of instructional design seems like a necessary compliment to these findings.

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