Research and Impact of OER

While there are a number of streams within the research related to the impact of open educational resources, much of the attention has been on textbook cost savings for students. Specifically, this research addresses the impact of high-cost required course materials and the time-adverse effect this has on students who are unable to purchase these materials. Central to this discussion is the research from the Florida Virtual Campus. More recently, research has focused on the impact of the adoption of OER on student success. This research looks at learning outcomes attainment and overall student course performance when students have full access to required course materials.

We know when pushing any new initiatives at community colleges or other institutions of higher education the first question is what does the research and existing literature say?

The August Summer Conversation will focus on issues related to research and impact of OER that have received the most attention but also on other ways to measure the impact of OER.

Synchronous Session – Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Join the conversation live 2022-08-24T19:00:00Z with moderators Michael LaMagna & Sunny Pai
Zoom Registration

Resources to Inform Our Discussion

Additional Sources

Discussion Questions

  • Student-Centered Research: How can we measure the impact OER has on a student’s sense of belonging?

  • Different Streams of Research: Are there other ways to measure impact beyond what we are currently doing?

  • Future Direction of Research on Impact: What would you find helpful in measuring the impact of OER at your institution?

Here is a summary of some data highlights from the Colvard et al paper. There are significant and striking improvements in grade point averages and drop, fail, and withdrawal rates in a 22,000 student study conducted at Georgia University. More research is needed to see if this is reflected at other institutions and systems.

Dr. Colvard confirmed this presentation of the data in August 2022. Page numbers next to the values in the table show where in the article the data are presented. The original version of this table was presented by Una Daly at a previous CCCOER presentation.

More resources to check out:
Open Educational Resources (OER) in Texas Higher Education, 2019

OpenEd Group Publications. Articles and book chapters published by OEG members relating to OER.

Publications by OER Research Fellows . Articles are based on the COUP framework and written by current and emeritus OER Research Fellows.

Towards Convergence: Creating Clarity to Drive More Consistency in Understanding the Benefits and Costs of OER.


Also see the more recent iteration of the first resource you have listed, @sunyeen: Advancing an Ecosystem for Open Educational Resources: OER in Texas Higher Education Biennial Report 2021.

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A thorough post just published by @opencontent (and read over lunch by me) seems to have so much to anchor this discussion.

On the Relationship Between Adopting OER and Improving Student Outcomes

In addition to including a through set of key research studies, David asks tougher questions about the validity of studies that are designed the same as media comparisons, whether it is appropriate to investigate the effectiveness of OER for the large percentage of students who have ready access to course materials – quoting from Grimaldi et al

The problem with this approach is that the effect of the intervention is washed out by students who are not expected to be affected by the intervention. To draw an analogy, the current research approach in OER is the equivalent of measuring the effect of a pain relieving drug on a sample of people who are mostly not in pain. In this sense, we should not expect to observe effects of an OER intervention, even if we believe that having access to a textbook is beneficial to learning.

Further into the article David points to the key areas that are larger influences on student outcomes- their teachers and their course pedagogy design.

I’d be keen to hear some perspectives from the Summer Conversation group here on this thoughtful post.