Rethinking the Traditional Textbook

A Case for Open Educational Resources (OER) and No-Cost Learning Materials


  • Deanna Cozart University of Georgia
  • Erin Maria Horan Association of American Colleges and Universieis
  • Gavin Frome American University



textbook, open educational resources (oer), higher education, student opinions


As college costs have continued to rise, textbooks now average more than $1,200 per student per academic year as of 2020. Traditional textbooks are not only expensive, but also have fixed and frequently outdated content. In this study, we compared pre-service teacher-student outcomes and perceptions of a traditional textbook versus no-cost, online materials such as open educational resources (OER) in an undergraduate Foundations of Education course. Outcomes were measured by comparison of final course grades. Perceptions were determined through quantitative and qualitative survey questions added to existing end-of-course evaluations. Results revealed students found OER and no-cost online materials more useful to their success in the course and more engaging than a traditional textbook. Qualitative analysis further revealed that while students appreciated there was no cost for the online materials, they preferred them to a traditional textbook because of the customized content. Results suggest students find instructor-curated, no-cost online readings more useful and preferable to a traditional textbook without compromising student academic performance.



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How to Cite

Cozart, Deanna, Erin Maria Horan, and Gavin Frome. 2021. “Rethinking the Traditional Textbook: A Case for Open Educational Resources (OER) and No-Cost Learning Materials”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 9 (2).