Smaller Studies

As noted on the review page, we only include studies with at least 50 participants. However we are beginning to collect smaller studies on this page. Please let us know if you’re aware of any we have missed.

Kimmons, R. (2015). OER Quality and Adaptation in K-12: Comparing Teacher Evaluations of Copyright-Restricted, Open, and Open/Adapted Textbooks. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(5).

Abstract: Conducted in conjunction with an institute on open textbook adaptation, this study compares textbook evaluations from practicing K-12 classroom teachers (n = 30) on three different types of textbooks utilized in their contexts: copyright-restricted, open, and open/adapted. Copyright-restricted textbooks consisted of those textbooks already in use by the teachers in their classrooms prior to the institute, open textbooks included alternatives from CK-12 and OpenStax, and open/adapted consisted of open textbooks that the teachers devoted time to adapting to their individual needs. Results indicate that open/adapted textbooks were evaluated as having the highest quality and that open textbooks were of higher quality than copyright-restricted textbooks. Though some factors of quality might be influenced by cost differences (e.g., timeliness and the ability to adopt updated textbooks), results reveal that open and open/adapted textbooks may do a better job of meeting the needs of K-12 teachers in a variety of ways that may not be captured through traditional approaches to quality assurance. This study marks an early step in exploring the quality of K-12 open educational resources (OER) and the use of practicing teachers as authentic evaluators of textbooks for their local contexts.

Vojtech and Grissett (2017) explore a novel approach to student perceptions by examining how students perceive hypothetical faculty members who use open textbooks. They find that students rated faculty who assign an open textbook to be kinder, as well as more encouraging and creative. Although the study was designed to have open textbooks be the only difference between the hypothetical professors that students rated, only 14% students attributed their belief that the professor who used OER was kinder, more creative, etc. to the costs of textbooks.

Coleman-Prisco, V. (2017). Factors Influencing Faculty Innovation and Adoption of Open Educational Resources in United States Higher Education.”  International Journal of Education and Human Developments Vol. 3 No 4; July 2017, 1-12.

This study reports on the survey results of sixteen people, five of whom were later interviewed to learn more about their experiences with OER. The survey results show that that 25% of participants felt that OER were worse than traditional learning materials; 37.5% said they were equal and 37.5% said they were better.

This study examined the adoption and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) by faculty in higher education in the United States. The connection between the creation and continued adoption of OER, aspects such as the characteristics of OER, the innovation-decision process, and institutional supports have been investigated. The study used a mixed methods design. Five themes emerged from the three research questions that guide this study. First off, the attributes that faculty believe constitute a valuable and sustainable OER are cost effective and focus on improving student learning and success. Secondly, the ability to customize, remix, and share OER contributes to faculty adoption of OER. Finally, resources from home institutions, as well as projects and grants with funding are the supports that faculty identify as meaningful to the innovation and adoption of OER. These five themes explain and reinforce the process of innovation and adoption of OER by faculty.

Li, L., Peltsverger, S., Colyar, N., Rutherfoord, R., Zheng, G., & Li, Z. (2016). Transformation at Scale: The Experience of Developing No Cost Learning Material for Database-Related Courses.


The high costs of textbooks have put a big financial burden for many college students, and may become a roadblock for students’ ability to complete their education. In addition, many textbooks are outdated at the publication date, given the dynamic nature of the technology field. In this study, our team of investigators took a collaborative effort to select, organize, and integrate
publicly accessible information, and transform those resources into instructionally rigorous learning materials on a series of database related courses in the IT curriculum. The authors also designed and conducted several experiments to evaluate the educational effectiveness of the developed no-cost-to-students learning materials. Our team-oriented and systematic approach on development of cost free course material could be beneficial to our colleagues in the academic community who strive to make higher education more affordable to the students.

Fisher, M. R. (2018). Evaluation of Cost Savings and Perceptions of an Open Textbook in a Community College Science Course. The American Biology Teacher80(6), 410-415.


Open textbooks are free, online resources that can replace traditional textbooks and save students money. The costs of traditional textbooks continue to increase, and this can particularly affect at-risk, low-income students. Few studies have analyzed student perceptions of open textbooks and how they influence academic achievement, but the emerging trend is positive. In the present study, I assessed student perceptions of an open textbook and calculated the subsequent cost savings. Although there were some limitations to my study, such as a low sample size, my results closely mirror previous studies in that most students had favorable opinions of the open textbook and would prefer to use them over traditional textbooks. The average cost savings per student was $81 for one course, determined using a novel method that does not assume all students buy new textbooks. These savings were likely important to the students, the majority of whom worked five hours or more and have received Pell Grants or other tuition waivers.