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Open Educational Resources

Open Education Group: The Review Project

This review provides a summary of all known empirical research on the impacts of OER adoption (including our own). The version below will be periodically updated with new articles as we become aware of them... We have gathered articles that focus on the efficacy of OER or teacher/student perceptions of such resources in actual practice. We have limited our studies to those in which OER were the primary learning resource(s) and were compared against traditional learning resources; in addition, the study needed to include at least 50 participants.
- Open Education Group

OER Research Articles

Given the recent interest in open educational resources, the research landscape in this field is constantly changing. We've compiled a selective list of articles covering a variety of OER-related topics.  Articles have been divided into three categories: impact, cost savings, and creation and publication.


Armellini, A., & Nie, M. (2013). Open educational practices for curriculum enhancementOpen Learning, 28(1), 7-20. doi: 10.1080/02680513.2013.796286

Reports on open educational practices (OEP) and the adoption and adaptation of OER in UK universities. Suggests ways institutions can support the use and creation of OER, with the goal of making OER adoption more sustainable and widespread.

Bliss, T.J., Hilton, J., III, Wiley, D., & Thanos, K. (2013). The cost and quality of online open textbooks: Perceptions of community college faculty and studentsFirst Monday, 18(1). doi: doi:10.5210/fm.v18i1.3972

Studied satisfaction rates and perceptions of OER in a community college population. Generally, the open textbooks used in this study were well received, but issues with technology or flawed OER texts result in negative perceptions by students.

Clinton, V. (2018). Savings without sacrifice: A case report on open-source textbook adoption. Open Learning: the Journal of Open, Distance, and e-Learning. Retrieved from

The purpose of this case report is to examine open-source textbook adoption through the COUP framework (costs, outcomes, use, and perceptions) comparing a semester with a commercial textbook to a semester with an open-source textbook... Results indicated that although costs were substantially lower, student learning outcomes and perceptions of quality were similar or better with an open-source textbook.

Colvard, N.B., Watson, C.E., & Park, H. (2018). The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success MetricsInternational Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education,  30 (2), 262-276. Retrieved from

Reports the results of a large-scale study of students enrolled in courses using OER. The article concludes that OER have benefits to students beyond affordability, including improved course grades, and lower incidence of course grades of D, F, or W (withdrawn). 

Feldstein, A., Martin, M., Hudson, A., Warren, K., Hilton, J., III, & Wiley, D. (2012). Open textbooks and increased student access and outcomesEuropean Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 2. Retrieved from

Core business courses at Virginia State University replaced traditional textbooks with OER content, resulting in more students accessing the textbook (compared to sales of hard copies) and higher grades. Students surveyed reported very high satisfaction with OER materials.

Fischer, L., Hilton, J., III, Robinson, T. J., & Wiley, D. (2015). A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary studentsJournal of Computing in Higher Education, 27(3), 159-172. doi: 10.1007/s12528-015-9101-x

Research study across multiple institutions on the efficacy of OER materials in undergraduate classes. Students assigned to OER materials had more favorable outcomes in several areas including course completion rates, course grades, and enrollment in future courses.

Florida Virtual Campus. (2012). 2012 Florida Student Textbook Survey. Retrieved from

Florida Distance Learning Consortium (FDLC) conducted a revised survey of higher education students between January 18 and April 4, 2012 as a follow-up to the 2010 Florida Student Textbook Survey. FDLC administered the earlier survey in response to the Open Access Textbooks Task Force Report (2010). The task force report was pursuant to a 2009 charge by the Florida Legislature to develop a plan for promoting and increasing the use of open access textbooks as a method for reducing textbook costs (Section 1004.091(2), Florida Statutes). The online survey of Florida higher education students was conducted to learn more about some of the issues underlying textbook costs and alternative solutions.

Florida Virtual Campus. (2016). 2016 Florida Student Textbook & Course Materials Survey. Retrieved from

The survey examined textbook affordability and acquisition at Florida’s public higher education institutions. Previous surveys were conducted in 2010 and 2012. In this survey, students were asked to use their recent personal experiences to provide insight on how the cost of textbooks and course materials impact their education, purchasing behaviors, academic completion and success, the study aids they find most beneficial to their learning, and their use of financial aid to address these costs.

Gallant, J., Lasseter, M. & Affordable Learning Georgia. (2018). 2018 USG Survey Report on Open Educational Resources. Retrieved from

What happens to awareness, opinions, and use of OER when an OER-focused initiative moves forward in a university system for over four years? The University System of Georgia (USG) OER Survey Report includes an analysis of current faculty and staff perceptions, needs, and use of OER throughout the USG, and the results will guide our strategy for Affordable Learning Georgia in the near future. Respondents included over 1,700 instructional faculty and professional staff from across the system’s institutions.

Hilton, J., III. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: A review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 573-590. doi: 10.1007/s11423-016-9434-9 

A synthesis of 16 studies. Results indicate that students meet learning outcomes with OERs as well as with traditional textbooks and both faculty and students perceive OER favorably.

Pawlyshyn, N., Braddlee, Dr., Casper, L., & Miller, H. (2013, November 4). Adopting OER: A case study of cross-institutional collaboration and innovationEducause Review. Retrieved from

Implementing OER in an underperforming first-year seminar at Mercy College (NY)  boosts student retention and learning. Faculty collaboration, excitement, and innovation are credited with a successful and quick implementation. Instructional design, assessment, implementation issues, and recommendations are discussed.

Scanlon, E. (2012). Open educational resources in support of science learning: Tools for inquiry and observationDistance Education, 33(2), 221-236. doi: 10.1080/01587919.2012.692053

Discusses how OER contributes to scientific literacy and the general public good, while also raising questions about how uneven access to technology limits OER’s impact. Provides case studies of two OER platforms (nQuire and iSpot).

Senack, Ethan. (2014). Fixing the broken textbook market: How students respond to high textbook costs and demand alternatives. Retreived from

Research study conducted with support from The Student Public Interest Research Groups ( Results indicate that many students avoid purchasing required textbooks because of the high cost but are concerned how this may affect their course grades and academic success.

Wiley, D., Williams, L., DeMarte, D., & Hilton, J., III. (2016). The Tidewater Z-Degree and the INTRO model for sustaining OER adoption. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23(41). doi: 10.14507/epaa.v23.1828

Examines the impact of the Z-degree at Tidewater Community College on retention and revenue generation for supporting OER sustainability. 

Cost savings

Hilton, J., III, Gaudet, D., Clark, P., Robinson, J., & Wiley, D. (2013, September). The adoption of open educational resources by one community college math departmentThe International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(4). Retrieved from

Community college students and faculty react favorably to the use of OER texts in five different math classes. OER adoption is credited with significant cost savings for students. Student success and completion rates were relatively unchanged; authors suggest further research is needed to determine impact of OER on student learning.

Hilton, J., III, & Laman, C. (2012). One college’s use of an open psychology textbookOpen Learning, 27(3), 265-272. doi: 10.1080/02680513.2012.716657

Students using OER outperformed peers using traditional course materials in an introductory psychology class at Houston Community College. Thorough discussion of cost savings for community college students when OER materials are adopted.

Hilton, J., III, Robinson, T. J., Wiley, D., & Ackerman, J.D. (2014). Cost-savings achieved in two semesters through the adoption of open educational resourcesThe International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(2), 67-84. doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v15i2.1700

Students enjoyed significant savings in eight colleges where OER materials were used. Study data and comparisons to traditional textbook prices are examined.

Creation and Publication

Sutton, S. C., & Chadwell, F.A. (2014). Open textbooks at Oregon State University: A case study of new opportunities for academic libraries and university pressesJournal of Librarianship & Scholarly Communication, 4(4), 34-48. doi: 10.7710/2162-3309.1174

A joint undertaking in open textbook authorship and publishing between Oregon State University Libraries and OSU’s Extended Campus (eCampus). Article highlights issues of libraries as content creators/managers, the role of the OSU Press, adoption of OER materials, and next steps for the project moving forward. Authors recommend inter-institutional collaboration in creating OER texts to avoid duplication of effort and to reach the most users.

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