Do Open-Educational Resources Impact Student Performance? A Comparative Analysis.
Abstract: The cost of tuition and fees at higher education institutions has risen much faster than the growth in inflation, as demonstrated by the rise in the consumer price index, and even faster than the rise in health care costs. As a response to this, many institutions have started to adopt open-educational resources (OER), which are available for free from various sources. A common question from non-adopters and new adopters is often whether the use of OER has an adverse effect on student learning. We tested this question by analyzing the performance of students in courses on principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics at Front Range Community College, Larimer Campus. Controlling for student characteristics, course characteristics, course instructors, and other factors, we used a Tobit model to estimate the impact of a commercial textbook and an OER textbook on students’ performance. We find no statistically significant results that OER use reduces student performance or, conversely, that the use of commercial textbooks improves student performance.