This post was contributed by Lisa Bartee, Biology Instructor, Mt Hood Community College.
Lisa Bartee and Christine Anderson’s Open Oregon Educational Resources grant project will develop open source textbooks and lab manuals for Biology 101 and 102 (biology for non-majors). This week marks the end of the pilot of the materials for BI102, which was the first course we worked on. The textbook is available at Mt Hood Community College Biology 102 and the lab manual can be accessed at Biology 102A Lab Packet. These materials may be revised over the course of the grant period.
The grant team surveyed the 18 students enrolled in a condensed 5-week summer BI102 course about their use of and satisfaction with the textbook. Our findings:
- 94% of the students accessed the textbook, with the majority of them accessing it as a PDF on their computer or tablet (they were provided with a link to the book in Pressbooks as well as a PDF they could download).
- None of the students chose to print the entire book, although 2 students reported that they printed a few pages.
- 80% of the students reported that they used the book more than half the time to complete homework assignments, but only 12% read all the words in each chapter. 60% of them skimmed the chapters looking for key words.
- All of the students felt that they could read and understand the information presented in the book and the majority of them stated that they liked the textbook (compared to other textbooks they had used).
Interestingly, while the majority of the students would have liked online resources like videos and quizzes, only 50% of the class was willing to pay any money to access those resources. Of the students who were willing to pay, only 1 was willing to spend more than $25.
Our small survey echoes the findings of other studies of perceptions of OER. Students are willing to read online in order to avoid paying printing costs and like the openly licensed textbook as well or better than expensive copyright books. Our students saved a collective $2,268 this summer!