So, how are high course material costs affecting students today? The Student PIRGs implemented a national survey in Fall 2019 to find out. We asked nearly 4,000 students to share their experiences with us, across 83 institutions serving over 500,000 students. We found that despite publishers’ talking points that access codes and other digital materials have answered student’s cries for help over costs, there has been little measurable improvement in key textbook affordability measures over the last six years since our last national survey. The broken textbook market continues to fail to meet student needs, and leaders at institutions of higher education should take further action to aid students.
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.
From the Executive Summary- "The 2017-2018 survey on teaching materials in U.S. higher education shows a steady growth in awareness of open educational resources (OER). Responses from over 4,000 faculty and department chairpersons paint a picture of steady improvement, with almost 50% of faculty now reporting OER awareness."
More than a decade ago, the Student PIRGs launched our campaign for textbook affordability to call attention to high prices and to highlight potential solutions to the problem. However, no research to date — including our own — has attempted to investigate the degree at which prices actually affect student’s financial standing and behavior. This report aims to fill that gap, and make the case for urgent action around high textbook prices.
The OER Adoption Impact Calculator helps you understand many of the potential impacts of adopting OER instead of traditionally copyrighted learning materials. The values in the Settings on the left are set to defaults based on the published research referenced below. Change the Settings on the left so that they match the situation at your institution in order to see how replacing traditionally copyrighted materials with OER might benefit your students and institution. The information below will update in real time as you make changes.
- The Initiative has spurred significant expansion of OER courses and enrollments at participating colleges.
- Students find OER materials more relevant, easier to navigate, and better aligned with learning objectives than traditional textbooks.
- Faculty see increased student engagement with OER materials.
- College leaders see OER degrees connected to other institutional strategic goals, including affordability, increased access and equity, decreased time to degree, and improved pedagogy.
- Students realize significant savings from use of free and open course materials, savings that can help them with financial challenges that might interfere with their ability to continue and succeed in their program of study.