A multi-institutional study has shown that classes that employ OER have lower drop and withdrawl rates than those using traditional, costly, textbooks keeping students on track to graduate. Relatedly, student performance in classes using OER has been shown to be the same as or marginally improved over that in which traditional textbooks were used.
This study reports findings from a year-long pilot study during which 991 students in 9 core courses in the Virginia State University School of Business replaced traditional textbooks with openly licensed books and other digital content. More students accessed digital open textbooks than had previously purchased hard copies of textbooks. Higher grades were correlated with courses that used open textbooks.
This paper's researches have not only verified that the application of Open Educational Resources (OERs) into the learning process leads to a significantly improvement of the assessments, but also that the combination of several OERs enhances their effectiveness. These results are supported first by a study of both students’ opinion and students’ behaviour over five academic years, and, secondly, by a correlation analysis between the use of OERs and the grades obtained by students.
This experiment, published in 2015, at UC Davis found students in a chemistry class who used an OER performed about the same, in both grades and time spent with their books, as students who used a traditional textbook.
Researchers in this 2016 article surveyed faculty and students in 13 classes at Kansas State University who used OERs. Overall, students said they preferred using OERs to traditional textbooks, and most faculty members also favored using them, citing the ability to customize them to their needs.
Results of this large-scale study indicate that OER adoption does much more than simply save students money and address student debt concerns. 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.