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International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 
Volume 18, Number 5 


August-2017 


Student and Faculty Perceptions of OpenStax in High 
Enrollment Courses 



C. Edward Watson 1 , Denise P. Domizi 2 , and Sherry A. Clouser 3 

1 Association of American Colleges and Universities, University System of Georgia, University of Georgia 


Abstract 

As public funding for higher education decreases and the cost to students to attend college increases, 
universities are searching for strategies that save students money while also increasing their chances for 
success. Using free online textbooks is one such strategy, and the OpenStax College initiative at Rice 
University is one of the most widely recognized producers of such materials. Through a mixed method 
approach, this article examines the student and faculty experiences of adopting and using an OpenStax 
textbook. With 1,299 student participants, it was found that students greatly value the quality, attributes, 
and the cost of the OpenStax Biology textbook, though minor concerns were raised about its online 
format. Faculty adoption of a free textbook provides unique opportunities for course redesign and 
improvement, and the approach employed in this course transformation context resulted in clearly 
articulated learning outcomes, a fully realized structure in the course’s learning management system, and 
improvements to instructional practice. The student, faculty, and course benefits of this study offer a 
compelling argument for the adoption of high quality open education resources (OER) in public higher 
education contexts. 

Keywords: open educational resources, OpenStax, biology, faculty development, course design 



Student and Faculty Perceptions of OpenStax in High Enrollment Courses 
Watson, Domizi, and Clouser 


Introduction 

As public higher education experiences significant decreases in state supported funding, the costs 
associated with attending college are increasing, and as a result, so is student loan debt (CBS 
MoneyWatch, 2012; Schoen, 2015). Textbooks are a key contributor to the overall cost of higher 
education, with students at four-year public institutions paying approximately $1,200 for books and 
supplies each year (College Board, 2015; Wiley, Green & Soares, 2012). Although student success is 
directly impacted by availability of required learning materials (Buczynski, 2007), when those materials 
are not affordable, students may choose not purchase them (Feldstein et al., 2012; Hilton and Laman, 
2012). 

At the University of Georgia, students have reported financial stresses, and that has been connected to 
success rates: 

Despite the availability of myriad funding opportunities (both merit- and need-based), more than 
one-third of all UGA students who responded to the NSSE in 2011 (42% of freshmen and 35% of 
seniors) indicated that “after all financial aid is taken into consideration, [they] still have unmet 
financial need that makes pursuing a degree difficult.” Students receiving Federal Pell Grants and 
subsidized Federal Direct Foans have a lower graduation rate (8 percent lower) than students who 
are not receiving Federal Pell Grants or Federal Direct Student Loans (based on the 2005 Cohort 
of first-time, full-time freshmen) (University System of Georgia, 2013, p. 280). 

In an effort to increase retention rates and reduce attrition rates at public institutions across the state, the 
University System of Georgia (USG) launched its Complete College Georgia initiative in 2012. The 
University of Georgia (UGA)—the flagship institution of the USG—has developed a number of strategies 
for facilitating student success. One of these is exploring the use of open educational resources (OER) in 
place of expensive textbooks. 

OER can be defined as “teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have 
been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others” 
(Atkins, Brown, & Hammond, 2007, p. 4). Examples include textbooks, research papers, simulations, and 
entire courses. The use of OER has been shown to save students money (UMass Amherst Libraries, 2013; 
Bliss, Robinson, Hilton, & Wiley, 2012). A compelling example is the associate’s degree in business 
administration at Tidewater Community College in Virginia in which all textbooks used by the instructors 
are open and free. This is reported to cut the cost of the degree in this community college context by one- 
third (Hulette, 2013). 

As faculty consider adopting OER, quality is often a key concern (Baker, Thierstein, Fletcher, Kaur, & 
Emmons, 2009). Baker and colleagues found that faculty and students have high expectations for OER, 
expect OER to be customizable, and prefer OER to be linked directly from the learning management 
system. A study of open textbook adoption at eight community colleges across the United States showed 
that “the majority of teachers and students perceived the OER textbooks as being of at least equal quality 
compared to the traditional textbooks they had used in the past” (Bliss et al., 2013, p. 14), and one third of 
teachers and students found them to be better than traditional texts (p. 15). Another study found that 
desire for “quality” included ease of use and reliability of the materials (Brent, Gibbs, & Gruszczynska, 


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2012). Faculty want to be able to find materials quickly and easily, and they expect the materials they 
choose to fit their teaching styles. Faculty are not only concerned with the quality of the materials, but also 
how their use of OER would impact the perceived quality of their own work and teaching. “Academics felt 
that there was an expectation that in research-led institutions especially, teachers should use examples 
from their own research and that course materials should be 'owned' in some sense by the person teaching 
the course” (Brent et al., 2012, p. 7). 

Understanding the experiences of faculty members who have actually used OER could alleviate these 
concerns and help interested or curious faculty members make informed decisions regarding the quality 
of OER. 

Past studies reveal a number of benefits, beyond cost savings, when OER are implemented. Faculty may 
find online open textbooks to be more accessible for students, particularly for searching and note-taking 
(Feldstein et al., 2012). Also, adoption of OER can provide opportunities for thoughtful course re-design 
(e.g., Fink, 2003). In particular, faculty with online or hybrid teaching experience were likely to provide 
their students with links to specific pages of content rather than just announcing reading assignments 
(Petrides Jimes, Middleton-Detzner, Walling, & Weiss, 2011). However, as OER remain a mystery to 
many faculty members, and because the research on OER use is still in its early stages, exploration of the 
perceived benefits and challenges of adopting OER is a valuable contribution to the research. 

The University of Georgia (UGA) Approach 

Given the financial needs of UGA students, the goals of Complete College Georgia, and the promise of 
OER to save students money, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at UGA began an initiative 
targeting high-enrollment courses currently using expensive textbooks. By pursuing these types of 
courses, the collective financial impact on students at the university would be the greatest. In 2013, the 
CTL applied for and received a $25,000 Incubator Grant from the USG to support this approach. The 
entirety of the funding went to hire a doctoral-level graduate assistant to provide instructional design and 
technology assistance for faculty interested in adopting an open textbook in a large-enrollment course. 
Three biology faculty who teach introductory biology courses to non-majors at UGA were selected to 
receive this graduate assistant as well as copious support from members of the CTL. 

OpenStax College at Rice University is a non-profit organization that has been funded through a number 
of foundations, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold 
Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to produce free, open, high quality textbooks in a 
number of disciplines. OpenStax books are peer-reviewed, customizable, and licensed under a Creative 
Commons License 4.0 International. Students can access the text from OpenStax in a number of ways; 
they can view it online, download it to a local device, print it, or order a low-cost print version of the text 
(OpenStax, 2015). The biology faculty reviewed the OpenStax Biology textbook and chose to adopt it for 
their courses. The USG-funded graduate assistant collaborated with the faculty to nest links to specific 
readings within the university’s learning management system and perform other tasks in support of 
course redesign activities required due to the switch from their existing textbook to OpenStax Biology. 

Assessment of the UGA Approach 


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Implementing a mixed methods study, the CTL examined the resources required to adopt an open 
textbook, and explored faculty and student perceptions of using OpenStax. From the student perspective, 
we investigated financial needs, access to technology, typical use of textbooks, use of OpenStax in the 
course of interest, and perceived quality of the OER. We were also interested in faculty perceptions of the 
OER compared to other textbooks, course design considerations based on implementing OER, and faculty 
perceptions of how students used the OER. 


Method 

In fall 2013, the instructors of two large-enrollment, non-major biology courses at the University of 
Georgia transitioned from a traditional, printed textbook to a free and open online textbook offered by 
OpenStax. Students enrolled in a total of seven sections were invited to complete a survey during the last 
three weeks of fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters. The survey was designed to determine students’ 
financial needs, their access to technology, how they used both traditional and the open-textbook, and 
their perceived quality of the textbook. 

Participants 

Participants were 1,299 undergraduate students enrolled in BIOL 1103 and BIOL 1104 during fall 2013 
and spring 2014. Female students comprised 69% (n=867) of the participants. Of these students, 61% 
(n=756) had completed less than two semesters of college, 19% (11=235) had completed 3-4 semesters, 
and 20% (n=265) had completed five or more semesters. Students ranged in age from 18 to 36 years (see 
Table 1), (M= 19.45, SD=i.79). 

Table 1 


Participating Students, by Major 


College 

Response 

% 

Arts and Sciences 

641 

5 i 

Business 

191 

15 

Education 

90 

7 

Engineering 

103 

8 

Family and Consumer Science 

72 

6 

Journalism and Mass Communication 

64 

5 

Other 

96 

7 


Materials 

The survey consisted of 38 questions, including multiple-choice (several of which included the option of a 
free-text response), yes/no questions, and open-ended questions (see Appendix A for complete survey). 
To develop the instrument, we began by searching the literature for existing surveys in the areas of both 
OER and eTextbooks. Our main areas of interest were about student financial needs, student access to 
technology, typical use of textbooks, use of the OER in the course of interest, and perceived quality of the 
OpenStax Biology textbook. While the authors, in cooperation with the instructors, wrote most of the 


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Watson, Domizi, and Clouser 

survey questions based on those areas of interest, the survey was informed by the literature, and several 
questions were used or modified from existing instruments (Bliss et al., 2013; Elias, Phillips, & 
Luechtefeld, 2012; Siebenbrunner, 2011). 

Procedure 

During the last three weeks of fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters, students over the age of 18 who were 
enrolled in BIOL 1103 and BIOL 1104 were invited to take an online survey to better understand their 
experience using the free textbook in this class. The students received extra credit points for completing 
the survey. Over the course of two semesters, 1300 students answered some or all of the survey questions 
with an overall response rate of 79.5% (see Table 2 for complete breakdown). 

Table 2 

Student Response Rate for Online Survey 



Fall 2013 



Spring 2014 



Enrollment 

Responses 

Rate 

Enrollment 

Responses 

Rate 


607 

482 

79 % 

553 

422 

76% 


279 

217 

78% 

196 

179 

91% 

The 

ended 


questions were analyzed using HyperResearch, a qualitative data analysis software tool. For each text 
response given, we assigned a code that represented the content of that response. For example, the first 
open-ended question was, “What did you like the most about the OpenStax textbook?” Responses such as, 
“It was free,” “I did not have to buy the book,” and “no cost” were each assigned the code, “free.” After 
coding approximately one hundred of the responses and either assigning previously assigned codes or 
creating new codes as needed, we were able to auto-code the rest of the responses using the key words we 
had identified from the sample coding. 


Results 


Student Financial Considerations 

Forty-nine percent of the students surveyed reported that they received loans to pay for some (42%) or all 
(7%) of their education. Almost half of the students (49%) indicated that they spend over $300 per 
semester on books (see Table 3). Realizing that 61% of these were first-year students, and that they all had 
at least one free textbook that semester (i.e., the OpenStax Biology textbook), these amounts are probably 
lower than for the general student population. When asked if they had difficulty coming up with the 
money to pay for their textbooks, 42% agreed or strongly agreed with that statement. 

Table 3 


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Watson, Domizi, and Clouser 


Students’ Response to Question, “How Much do you Typically Spend on Textbooks Each Semester?” 


Answer 

Response 

% 

Less than $100 

27 

2% 

$101 -$200 

209 

17% 

$201 -$300 

398 

32% 

$301 -$400 

358 

29% 

$401 -$500 

187 

15% 

More than $500 

64 

5 % 

Total 

1,243 

100% 


Student Textbook Use 

When asked how often they bought the required textbooks for their courses, 29% of the students reported 
that they always bought the book, and 47% said they bought the book most of the time. For those who did 
not always buy the book (71%), we asked, “If you have ever made the decision not to buy the required 
textbook, what has influenced that decision? Check all that apply.” Their answers are represented in Table 
4 - 

Table 4 

Students’ Response to Question, “If You Have Ever Made the Decision Not to Buy the Required Textbook, 
What Has Influenced That Decision? Check All That Apply.” 


Answer _ Response _% 


Too expensive 

656 

57 

I rarely use them 

675 

59 

They are unnecessary to successfully 
pass the class 

656 

57 

I borrowed or shared the textbook 

499 

44 

Other 

67 

6 


Because the students could access the OpenStax textbook electronically or by printing the readings, we 
were interested in how the students accessed and interacted with the OpenStax textbook. Eighty-eight 
percent responded that it was 

easy for them to access electronic materials; 92% said that they could access electronic materials most or 
all of the time. Fifty-two percent preferred to read printed hard copies, 18% preferred to read 
electronically (i.e., computer, tablet, phone, eReader), and 29% had no preference. This was somewhat at 


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odds with their response to the question, “How do you prefer to access the free BIOL OpenStax textbook 
for this class?” In response to that question, only 5% indicated that they printed the material; the rest said 
they accessed it electronically through the links on the learning management system (69%), PDFs 
downloaded to their computers (19%), or through the OpenStax website (7%). It is possible that the 
question of access was phrased in such a way that it was not clear to the students or that the students were 
choosing not to print the text even though that was their preferred method of reading. 

Student Overall Impressions of OER 

Sixty-percent of the students reported that they told someone that they were using a free textbook in their 
biology class. People they told included parents or guardians (71%), friends (71%), roommates (61%), 
siblings (20%), classmates in other classes (46%), and instructors of other courses (6%). 

We were also interested in students’ overall impressions of the OpenStax textbook. Students were asked to 
rate the quality of the OpenStax textbook as compared to other textbooks they had used. Sixty-four 
percent said the quality was about the same, and 22% said it was higher or much higher than other 
textbooks. With regards to the readability of the OpenStax textbook, 64% of the students said it was 
“good” or “very good,” 31% said it was “fair,” and 5% said it was “poor” or “very poor.” 

In an open-ended question, we asked students what they liked best about the OpenStax book. For the 
most part, their responses were brief and they listed one or two things. For example, “It is easy to access 
and free” is a representative response to this question. The most common response was that they liked 
that it was free (n=604). Students also indicated it was easy to access the text (n=26s), with comments 
such as, “I can access it from my computer, so that I don’t have to always bring it with me.” There were 
also comments about the nature of the format. For example, students said they liked that, “our professor 
can link [to] specific chapters we need to read on the checklist;” and that “I can use word search on my 
computer to find something specific very fast.” 

When asked what they liked the least about the OpenStax textbook, again most students gave brief 
responses with one or two points in their answers. One student, however, gave a more lengthy response. 
Interestingly, this response is representative of the range of frequently cited “least favorite” aspects of the 
text, with a particular emphasis on the first two points: 

My first would be that I cannot physically highlight and make notes directly on the page, which is 
how I effectively study (especially through direct notes). The fact that I must make notes 
separately also divides my attention between two texts. My second is that it occasionally 
hurts/strains my eyes to stare at a screen all the time (I am an extremely meticulous/sometimes 
slow reader). My third is that having my study material on a laptop constantly distracts my 
attention. My fourth, and least applicable, is that I just prefer the feel of a tangible textbook; I 
have found my focus, comprehension, and overall picturing of the material to be better when I 
physically turn the pages and look through what I've read. 

As represented by this student, the most common complaints had to do with limitations of interacting 
with an online or electronic text in terms of highlighting and annotating, and the eyestrain that can 


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Watson, Domizi, and Clouser 

accompany long periods of time online. Finally, some students asserted that there were assigned readings 
that were “irrelevant to what we need to know” and that were “not completely related to what is being 
taught in class.” 

Students were also asked, “What ideas do you have regarding how the BIOL OpenStax textbook could be 
used or integrated differently in the course?” The most frequent response had to do with better 
reading/lecture/assessment integration. Typical responses included, “the course would have been better if 
the lecture coincided with what was read in the textbook,” and “have the material integrated into the test 
so students are more encouraged to read the material, and give more incentives for students that take the 
time to read the material.” 

Another frequent response concerned the amount of reading. Students recommended more specific and 
targeted reading assignments: “Reading should be more concise. Some of the stuff we read in the text 
never really applies to what we learn in class.” 

Faculty Considerations 

Toward the end of the fall 2013 semester, a focus group interview was conducted with three faculty 
members who were teaching BIOL 1103 and 1104 with the OpenStax textbook for the first time that 
semester. The following themes emerged from this conversation. 

Comparison to other textbooks. When comparing the quality of the OpenStax textbook to 
other printed textbooks they had previously used, the faculty participants agreed that there were things 
that were missing from the OpenStax textbook, but that they “always had the same experience with 
regular textbooks, too.” They discussed modifications they made to address these issues, such as finding 
figures online, and animations that were “better representations of what’s happening.” 

The faculty participants also felt that there were fewer supplemental materials provided with the 
OpenStax textbook. For example, while there were end-of-chapter questions and a glossary of terms, there 
was no test bank, and no PowerPoint presentations provided. They agreed that it might be more difficult 
to teach with the OpenStax textbook if they had not already had a test bank of questions from previous 
semesters teaching the class. One remarked that the PowerPoint presentations provided by publishers are 
usually “really terrible” and so they were not missed. 

They also talked about how they modified the reading. They found it complicated to edit the chapters, so 
typically they would either select very specific sections of a chapter to assign to students, or “cut and paste 
[certain sections] and just say, ‘this is your reading’. . . Then watch a couple animations and some guiding 
questions as you’re watching them.” 

Modifications to information organization. The faculty participants used the new text as 
an opportunity to rethink how they organized the content for their students. 

Rather than just kind of having it be on a syllabus and sort of making things available in one 
document, I thought, why don’t we make things more electronically accessible since the book is 
electronically accessible. So I hadn’t [given them] objectives for reading before because its like, 


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where are you gonna put them? It’s too big on the syllabus and you can give it to them in class but 
they’re not really paying attention, and you can put links up to animations that you wanted them 
to watch before class it’s like, how do you kind of get all that content in manageable pieces? So I 
think the changes related to reimagining how you could organize the delivery of information to 
students like using checklists [in the learning management system]. 

Students could now go to one place to access a checklist with all of their assignments for that week, 
including objectives and links to the reading, animations, figures, and quizzes. 

Perceptions of student use of textbook. Most of the students enrolled in the BIOL 1103 and 
1104 courses were in their first (61%) or second (19%) year of college, coming from a high school 
background where books were free. The faculty participants agreed that they felt that their students did 
not “put a lot of value in a textbook,” and expressed surprise when students questioned the amount of 
reading: 


One student said, ‘I mean are we supposed to read all this? The assignments seem like we’re 
supposed to read a lot of pages.’ I clicked on the link for the day and it was like a page and a half, 
like, that’s really not that much. 

Added another faculty participant, 

We would put like three links up and one might be a little two-minute animation and then one 
might be like, a page and a half of reading... but I think if you look at it, you think, ‘oh my god 
there’s like five things I have to do.’ 

Departmental considerations. While all of the faculty participants agreed that they would 
continue to use the OpenStax textbook in the future, they did mention challenges within departments due 
to perceptions and expectations of other faculty members. Some colleagues in the department had 
expressed concern to our faculty participants that students would “miss out on a bunch of stuff’ if changes 
were made to the curriculum. Others were thinking about time constraints: “We have instructors that 
would not touch this, right, so they were like, ‘I don’t want to change anything, I got it set, I just want to 
do it this way, it’s a lot of work.” On the other hand, one faculty participant commented, 

I think it depends on how you built your course, too. If you built your course around a textbook, switching 
is hard, but if you built your course and then you fit in the textbook as a resource, it’s not that hard. 

Another concern our faculty participants had heard was with regards to keeping the textbook current and 
updated: 

Faculty have come to me and said, ‘how do you know this is gonna be updated, how are they 
gonna keep it updated?’ and I was like, “...have you looked at some of these textbooks? I mean, I 
know they update on a regular three year cycle but it’s just so that they can continue, you know, to 
charge new book prices. Not that much changed. 


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Discussion 

Unsurprisingly, students were exceptionally pleased with the savings offered by the OpenStax textbook. 
Regarding quality, faculty and student perceptions alike perceived the content available in OpenStax 
Biology to be comparable to similar textbooks produced by traditional publishers; however, students 
recognized additional benefits to the OER textbook, including its search-ability, portability, and the 
professor’s capability to deep link to specific passages from the course’s larger organization structure as 
developed within the institution’s learning management system. Alternatively, a minority of students 
lamented the loss of functionality found with traditional textbooks, including the ability to write notes in 
the margins. Some students also voiced concerns over eyestrain and distractions caused by being online to 
engage with the textbook. Students had the ability to purchase a print copy of the text or to print passages 
themselves; however, it’s likely that many students chose not to do so due to the inherent perceived costs 
of those activities, however minor as compared to traditionally published textbooks. 

Faculty found the flexibility of the OpenStax textbook very useful. Their ability to link directly to content 
they planned to use and to add additional content using the learning management system contributed to 
their overall level of satisfaction with the content and associated tools. Faculty adopters in this study 
noted concern from colleagues who were unfamiliar with notions of open education resources generally, 
and OpenStax specifically, and those faculty sometimes found themselves defending their choices in these 
contexts; however, their ability to describe their firsthand experiences with the quality of traditional and 
online textbooks, coupled with cost comparisons, made those concerns and discussions easier to navigate. 

From the perspective of teaching and learning centres that often play a key institutional role in the 
adoption of OER, transitions from one textbook to another provide opportunities to assist faculty with 
broader course improvement activities. As a part of our process, we facilitated the crafting of learning 
outcomes for each module throughout the course that aligned with the readings and other course 
activities for that week. These activities fostered opportunities to offer recommendations for course-level 
instruction and assessment beyond the readings for the course. As a result, the adoption of the OER 
textbook led to significant course redesign. 


Conclusion 

Though faculty and students identified both positive and negative aspects in the free online format, they 
found the quality of the OpenStax content to be comparable to that found in traditional textbooks. 
Ultimately, however, the adoption of the free online textbooks ensures that all students, regardless of their 
socio-economic background or financial challenges, have access to the required course materials on the 
first day of class. As institutions consider how to improve various student success metrics, the adoption of 
free, open textbooks helps to level the educational playing field for all students. Additionally, when 
multiple courses implement high-quality free textbooks, there is the potential to create significant cost 
savings that can lower financial hurdles for students matriculating toward graduation. Such student 


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benefits, coupled with opportunities for course revision and improvement, create a compelling argument 
for the broad adoption of OER at public institutions of higher learning. 


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Formats. Retrieved from http://eric.cd.gov/?id=EJg.51836 

UMass Amherst Libraries (2013, February 19). The open education initiative @ UMass Amherst. 

Retrieved from http://guides.librarv.umass.edu/content.php?pid=87648&sid=i7i48o7 

University System of Georgia (2013, October). Complete College Georgia: Updates on campus completion 
plans. Retrieved from http://www.usg.edu/educational access/documents/Universitv-Svstem- 
of-Georgia-Campus-Completion-Plan-Updates-October-20i2.pdf 

Wiley, D., Green, C., & Soares, L. (2012). Dramatically bringing down the cost of education with OER. 

How open education resources unlock the door to free learning. Center for American Progress. 
Retrieved from http://www.americanprogress.org/wp- 
content/uploads/issues/2012/02/pdf/open education resources.pdf 


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Appendix A 


OER Survey 

Dear student, 

We are researchers from the Center for Teaching and Learning at The University of Georgia. We 
invite you to participate in a research study entitled, Investigating the use of open educational resources 
in the college classroom, that is being conducted under the auspices of the University System of Georgia. 
The purpose of this study is to better understand your experience using the free textbook in this class. 

Your participation will involve completing this online survey and should only take about 10-15 
minutes. Your involvement in the study is voluntary, and you may choose not to participate or to stop at 
any time without penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. Your decision about 
participation will have no bearing on your grades or class standing. If you decide to stop or withdraw from 
the study, the information/data collected from or about you up to the point of your withdrawal will be 
kept as part of the study and may continue to be analyzed. Existing data from midterm evaluations will 
also be used; that data has no identifying information. 

All of your responses will remain confidential; your instructor will know that you completed the 
survey, but will not be able to associate your name with your responses, and your responses will not be 
associated with your name in any way. With the Internet, your confidentiality will be maintained to the 
degree permitted by the technology used. Specifically, no guarantees can be made regarding the 
interception of data sent via the Internet by any third parties. The results of the research study may be 
published, but because there is no way to associate your particular responses to you, your name or any 
identifying information will not be used. 

The findings from this project may provide information on the adoption and use of Open 
Educational Resources. There are no known risks or discomforts associated with this research. 

If you have any questions about this research project, please feel free to call me Denise Domizi at 
the Center for Teaching and Learning at (706) XXX-XXXX or send an e-mail to XXX@uga.edu. Questions 
or concerns about your rights as a research participant should be directed to The Chairperson, University 
of Georgia Institutional Review Board, 629 Boyd GSRC, Athens, Georgia 30602; telephone (706) XXX- 
XXXX; email address irb@uga.edu. 

By completing the following online survey, you are agreeing to participate in the above described 
research project. Thank you for your consideration! You may print this page for your records before 
proceeding to the survey. 

Sincerely, 

Denise Pinette Domizi, Ph.D. 

C. Edward Watson, Ph.D. 


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O I agree to participate in this research study. (1) 

Please enter your name. (Your name will not be linked with your responses; your professor will not know 
how you answered any of the questions). 

Last (l) 

First (2) 

Please enter your #810 (student ID number) with no spaces. Your 810 number will not be linked with 
your responses; your professor will not know how you answered any of the questions. 

810 ... (1) 

What is your age? 

What is your gender? 

O Male (1) 

O Female (2) 

O Prefer not to answer (3) 

School/College 

O Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (1) 

O Arts in Franklin College (2) 

O Business (3) 

O Ecology (4) 

O Education (5) 

O Engineering (6) 

O Environment and Design (7) 

O Family and Consumer Sciences (8) 

O Forestry and Natural Resources (9) 

O Journalism and Mass Communication (10) 

O Law (11) 

O Pharmacy (12) 

O Public Health (13) 

O Public and International Affairs (14) 

O Sciences in Franklin College (15) 

O Social Work (16) 

O Veterinary Medicine (17) 

How much do you agree with the following statement: It is easy for me to access electronic material. 

O Strongly Disagree (1) 

O Disagree (2) 

O Neutral (3) 

O Agree (4) 

O Strongly Agree (5) 


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How often are you able to access electronic materials? 

O Never (1) 

O Rarely (2) 

O Sometimes (3) 

O Most of the time (4) 

O Always (5) 

On average, how many hours per day do you use a computer or tablet? 
O 0-3(1) 

O 4-6 (2) 

o 7-9(3) 

O 10-12 (4) 

O 12-15 (5) 

O 16+(6) 

How many semesters have you completed in college? 

O Less than 1 (1) 

O 1-2 (2) 

O 3-4(3) 

O 5-6(4) 
o 7-8(5) 

O 9-10 (6) 

O More than 10 (7) 


Have you received any loans to fund your education? 

O Loans are funding all of my education (1) 

O Loans are funding some of my education (2) 

O I am not using loans to fund my education. (3) 

To what extent do you agree with this statement: I have difficulty coming up with the money to pay for my 
textbooks. 

O Strongly Disagree (1) 

O Disagree (2) 

O Neutral (3) 

O Agree (4) 

O Strongly Agree (5) 

Instructions: Please answer the following questions with regards to your general use of 
textbooks across all of your classes since coming to UGA. If this is your first semester, 
answer these questions with regards to this semester. 

In general, how often do you purchase the required textbooks for the courses you take? 

O Never (1) 

O Rarely (2) 

O Sometimes (3) 

O Most of the time (4) 

O Always (5) 


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How much do you typically spend on textbooks each semester? 

O Less than $100 (1) 

O $1011- $200 (2) 

O $201 -$300 (3) 

O $301 - $400 (4) 

O $401 - $500 (5) 

O More than $500 (6) 

If you have ever made the decision not to buy the required textbook, what has influenced that decision? 
Check all that apply. 

□ Too expensive (1) 

□ I rarely use them (2) 

□ They are unnecessary to successfully pass the class (3) 

□ I borrowed or shared the textbook (4) 

□ Other_(5)_ 

For a typical course, how often do you use the required texts? 

O Never (1) 

O 2-3 Times a Semester (2) 

O 2-3 Times a Month (3) 

O 2-3 Times a Week (4) 

O Daily (5) 

For a typical course, do you primarily: 

O Read most of the text (1) 

O Skim the text (2) 

O Usually do not read the text (3) 

If the textbooks used in your classes were available electronically, would you be more likely to take your 
textbooks to class? 

O Strongly disagree (1) 

O Disagree (2) 

O Neutral (3) 

O Agree (4) 

O Strongly agree (5) 

Do you prefer reading textbooks electronically or through printed hard copies? 

O Electronically (i.e. computer, tablet, phone, eReader) (1) 

O Printed hard copies (2) 

O No preference (3) 

How often do you read books of any kind electronically? 

O Never (1) 

O Rarely (2) 

O Sometimes (3) 

O Most of the time (4) 

O Always (5) 


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Instructions: Please answer the following questions with regards to the free OpenStax 
textbook used in BIOL. 

Did you tell anyone that you were using a free textbook in BIOL this semester? 

O Yes (1) 

O No (2) 


Answer If Yes Is Selected 

Whom did you tell? (check all that apply): 

□ Parent(s) or guardian(s) (1) 

□ Sibling(s) (2) 

□ Roommate(s) (3) 

□ Friend(s) (4) 

□ Classmate(s) n other classes (5) 

□ Instructors of other course(s) (6) 

□ Other_(7)_ 

How do you prefer to access the free BIOL OpenStax textbook for this class? 

O Through the OpenStax website on my laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet computer (1) 

O Through the section links on the checklists in eLC-New. (2) 

O PDFs downloaded to my computer, tablet, or eReader (3) 

O I print the material (4) 

How do you interact with the OpenStax text? 

O I read, make notes, and/or highlight on the printed paper (1) 

O I read, make notes, and/or highlight on the electronic version (2) 

O I make notes in a separate electronic document (for example, Microsoft Word, Google docs) (3) 
O I read the text and try to remember what I am reading (4) 

O Other_(5)_ 

How often have you used the OpenStax textbook for this course during the semester? 

O Never (1) 

O 2-3 Times a Semester (2) 

O 2-3 Times a Month (3) 

O 2-3 Times a Week (4) 

O Daily (5) 

For this course's OpenStax textbook, which do you do primarily: 

O Read the text word for word (1) 

O Skim the text (2) 

O Usually do not read the text (3) 

How often, if at all, do you have trouble accessing the OpenStax website? 

O Never (1) 

O 2-3 Times a Semester (2) 

O 2-3 Times a Month (3) 

O 2-3 Times a Week (4) 

O Daily (5) 

What is your favorite thing about the OpenStax textbook? 


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What is your least favorite thing about the OpenStax textbook? 

Instructions: Please answer the following questions with regards to the quality and 
usability of the free OpenStax textbook used in BIOL. 

How would you rate the readability of the BIOL OpenStax textbook? 

O Very poor (1) 

O Poor(2) 

O Fair (3) 

O Good (4) 

O Very good (5) 

How important were the OpenStax textbook readings to your academic performance in BIOL? 

O Not important (1) 

O Somewhat important (2) 

O Very important (3) 

O Essential (4) 

How would you rate the quality of the BIOL OpenStax textbook as compared to other textbooks you have 
used used? 

O Much lower (1) 

O Slightly lower (2) 

O About the same (3) 

O Higher (4) 

O Much higher (5) 

How likely are you to register for a future course that uses a free textbook like the OpenStax textbook used 
in this course? 

O No chance (1) 

O Very little chance (2) 

O Some chance (3) 

O Very good chance (4) 

Imagine a future course you are required to take. If the same instructor offers two different sections of this 
course during equally desirable time slots, but one section uses free digital textbooks and the other uses 
traditional published textbooks, which section would you prefer to enroll in? 

O I would enroll in the section that uses a TRADITIONAL PUBLISHED (1) 

O TEXTBOOK (2) 

O I would enroll in the section that uses a FREE DIGITAL TEXTBOOK (3) 

O I would have no preference (4) 

What ideas do you have regarding how the BIOL OpenStax textbook could be used or integrated 
differently in the course? 

Is there anything else you would like to say about the OpenStax textbook used in this class? 

D Athabasca 
University 



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