Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources Guide

Student Impact

In this video, students speak directly about how high textbook costs impact their learning.

"Textbook Tales: Have Textbook Costs Ever Impacted the Quality of Your Education?" by ISU Libraries is licensed under under CC BY.

Equity and Access

One of the biggest benefits of Open Educational Resources is that they are generally free or low cost, making learning more accessible for everyone.

  • “Students consistently reported textbook pricing to negatively impact their stress levels, purchasing habits, first-day access, academic performance, and time-to-graduation rates. The educational hardships posed by high textbook prices were even more significant, however, for historically underserved student groups.” (Jenkins et al., 2020)

Because most OER are freely available online, all students can access them on day one of class. Research has shown that due to limited financial resources, some students delay or completely forego purchasing required commercial textbooks.

  • “Roughly 65% of students, on average, indicated they did not purchase a textbook because of the cost. More than half of those students felt that foregoing the textbook negatively influenced their grade in the course, and approximately 37% had dropped a course because they were unable to afford the textbook.” (Fischer et al., 2020)

Academic Success

Courses adopting OER have been found to have as good or better educational outcomes as those using commercially available textbooks, both in terms of course completion and course grades (Fischer et al., 2015; Hilton et al., 2016; Colvard et al., 2018).

  • “OER improve end-of-course grades and decrease DFW (D, F, and Withdrawal letter grades) rates for all students. They also improve course grades at greater rates and decrease DFW rates at greater rates for Pell recipient students, part-time students, and populations historically underserved by higher education.” (Colvard et al., 2018)

Teaching Benefits

Since open materials are fully revisable and remixable, they can be customized to fit the way an instructor wants to teach a course.

  • Unlike traditionally copyrighted content, instructors have the freedom to revise material by removing irrelevant content or adding one’s own content, as well as the flexibility to combine parts of resources together, thereby ensuring materials are contextualized to a specific course.
  • This also allows instructors to include more diverse and inclusive teaching materials that might be missing from a traditional textbook.

Because anyone, including students, can be involved in the creation, revision, and distribution of OER, instructors can also use these resources to engage in “open pedagogy,” assignments that leverage OER to create more meaningful learning experiences.

Adapted from the BCcampus Open Education "OER Student Toolkit" by Daniel Munro; Jenna Omassi; and Brady Yano, licensed under CC BY 4.0.


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


Connolly, T., & Svoboda, E. (2023). Open Educational Resources in Nursing Curricula: A Systematic Review. The Journal of nursing education62(3), 147–154. 


Fischer, L., Belikov, O., Ikahihifo, T. K., Hilton III, J., Wiley, D., & Martin, M. T. (2020). Academic Librarians Examination of University Students’ and Faculty’s Perceptions of Open Educational Resources. Open Praxis, 12(3), 399–415. DOI:


Fischer, L., Hilton, J., Robinson, T. J., & Wiley, D. A. (2015). A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 27(3), 159–172.


Hilton, J. L. I., Fischer, L., Wiley, D., & William, L. (2016). Maintaining Momentum Toward Graduation: OER and the Course Throughput Rate. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(6).


Jenkins, J.J., Sánchez, L.A., Schraedley, M.A.K., Hannans, J., Navick, N. & Young, J., 2020. Textbook Broke: Textbook Affordability as a Social Justice Issue. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2020(1), p.3. DOI:


Munro, D., Omassi, J., & Yano, B. (2016). OER Student Toolkit. BCcampus.