I have been meaning to spotlight our current evaluation work with West Chester University (PA) which is critical to highlight and potentially mitigate the high cost of college textbooks which remains one of the major student problems and a significant expense alongside tuition and accommodation. With prices of some new textbook copies reaching several hundred dollars, not every student is capable of affording them.
A recent study showed that between the years 2020-2022, 90% of students were very concerned that not purchasing materials will negatively impact their overall grades, 85% of students did not purchase a textbook due to food insecurity, 79% of students reported being impacted by the pandemic in some way, 65% of students skipped buying a textbook due to the costs, and 21% skipped on buying an access code. (Source and infographic: https://lnkd.in/ecsJGk56)
To mitigate the impact of the continual rise in textbook processes, universities have begun to provide students with free access to educational materials or Open Educational Resources (OER). The materials in the OER are licensed so that users have free and perpetual permission to engage in the following activities: retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute.
The Pennsylvania Alliance for Design of Open Textbooks (PA-ADOPT), a 3-year U.S. Department of Education’s Open Textbooks Pilot Program (OTPP) grant is made up of four participating institutions from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) that are all regional and primarily undergraduate institutions, situated in Southeastern Pennsylvania (e.g., Cheyney University, Kutztown University, Millersville University, and West Chester University of Pennsylvania).
The project addresses gaps in the open e-Textbook marketplace to improve student learning and mitigate rising student costs. The project also addresses two emerging issues of regional and national concern:
1. The need to decrease the cost of attendance for Pell-eligible students
2. Decrease the cost of attendance for majors needed to fill growing STEM-H (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Health Professions) workforce demands.
In addition to conducting a formative and summative evaluation for this important initiative, we are also tracking metrics such as faculty usage and adoption of Open e-textbooks (OETs), course enrollments and trends over time in the OET courses, drop, fail, and withdrawal (DFW) rates, expenditures on books/textbooks, retention, and average grades/performance per OET course per participating institution and the broader impact of the initiative over time.