From the Provo Daily Herald:
In a result that will make college students rejoice, a group of researchers at Brigham Young University have found that a free textbook is just as effective as an expensive one.
BYU’s Open Education Group studies open educational resources, free and open-access educational resources they’ve found that can teach students just as well as paid resources.
The group’s research not only showed that students using the free materials do just as well, and in some cases better, than if they were using a pricey textbook, but that the students were also more likely to stick in a course and not drop out.
. . . .
Lane Fischer, a BYU counseling psychology and special education chair and member of the Open Education Group, said many students will wait to buy their textbooks until weeks after classes begin when their financial aid comes or until they decide they need the textbook for the course. By the time the students get their books, they’re behind and might drop the course.
“That cycle continues for these folks who have lower educational resources,” Fischer said. “This is our most vulnerable group who most need an education and we are making them slow down and hurting them in the process.”
At community colleges, the price of textbooks can be half of the price a student pays for their education.
Fischer said the cost of textbooks over time, compared to inflation, has grown astronomically and that the textbook market in general doesn’t follow traditional supply and demand.
“It is a broken economic system because the normal laws of supply and demand don’t apply,” said John Hilton III, a professor of ancient scripture at BYU and member of the Open Education Group. “The professor doesn’t have to pay for it, and the students don’t have a say in which one they chose.”
Fisher said about half of professors know how much their required textbooks cost.
. . . .
“If students perform just as well without the textbooks, it is like giving every student a $1,000 scholarship if students are using open education resources,” Hilton said.
With new editions constantly coming out in subjects that don’t change, like algebra, once a student buys a textbook, a new edition can make it nearly impossible to sell the used one.
Link to the rest at Daily Herald