The rising cost of college textbooks has been well documented (e.g., USGAO, 2013). Fortunately, as textbook prices continue to increase, so has the use and popularity of open education resources (OER). OER have shown potential to decrease non-tuition costs, while simultaneously increasing student accessibility, academic performance, and time-to-graduation rates (Hilton, 2016). Yet virtually no empirical research to date has explored OERs’ specific impact on those who are presumed to benefit most from this potential: historically underserved student populations (see Arbor, 2011; Delgado, Delgado, & Hilton, 2019; Ekowo, 2017). For these reasons, the present study explored the potential impact of OER and textbook pricing among racial/ethnic minority students, low-income students, and first-generation college students at a four-year Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in Southern California. The survey used for this study was created using Google Forms; it consisted of 43 questions, divided into six sections. A complete version of our survey (licensed CC BY) can be viewed online at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1gnQS 1hY2k3DD7-EJMfaOS2j7INAZh1_yxjFrjjlkrsQ/edit?usp=sharing. Using the university’s learning management software (i.e., Canvas), participants were recruited using convenience and snowball sampling. This process continued until we received responses from 10% of the university’s total student population (n = 705). Our subsequent univariate, bivariate, and multivariate results revealed textbook costs to be a substantial barrier for the vast majority of students. However, those barriers were even more significant among historically underserved college students; thus, confirming textbook affordability as a social justice issue, and positing OER as a potential avenue for realizing a more socially just college experience (see Agartan, 2014; Biswas-Diener & Jhangiani, 2017; El Khoury, 2015). In the end, the goals of this study are multifaceted. We not only hope to shed light on the gap that exists within current OER literature regarding difference, but also to address this oversight by offering empirically-informed results on the impact of textbook pricing. By doing so, we aim to spur other researchers in pursuing a similar line of inquiry, while offering guidance to university staff, faculty, and administrators on how they too can pursue a more socially just classroom, university, and higher education system writ large.
Agartan, K. (2014). Globalization and the question of social justice. Sociology Compass, 8(6): 903-915. doi:10.1111/soc4.12162.
Arbor, A. (2011). A time for deeper learning: Preparing students for a changing world. The Education Digest, 77(4), 43-44.
Biswas-Diener, R., & Jhangiani, R. S. (2017). Introduction to open. In R. S. Jhangiani and R. Biswas-Diener (Eds.), Open: The philosophy and practices that are revolutionizing education and science (3-7). London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/bbc.a. License: CC-BY 4.0
Delgado, H., Delgado, M. S., & Hilton, J. (2019). On the efficacy of open education resources: Parametric and nonparametric analyses of a university calculus class. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 20(1). Received from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/3892/4959
Ekowo, M. (2017). OER researchers don’t disaggregate data on diverse students: Here’s why they should. EdSurge. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-06-09-oer-researchers-don-t-disaggregate-data-on-diverse-students-here-s-why-they-should
El Khoury, A. (2015). Globalization development and social justice: A propositional political approach. Florence: Taylor & Francis.
Jenkins, J. J. (2019). White Paper: Textbook Affordability and Student Success for Historically Underserved Populations. Available at: https://www.csuci.edu/tli/openci/openci-white-paper.pdf. [Accessed 24 October, 2019]
Jenkins, J. J., Hannans, J., & Leafstedt, J. (2018). Anonymous student survey. Available at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1gnQS 1hY2k3DD7-EJMfaOS2j7INAZh1_yxjFrjjlkrsQ/edit?usp=sharing
United States Government Accountability Office. (2013). College textbooks: Students have greater access to textbook information. Report to Congressional Committees. Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/assets/660/655066.pdf
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