Investigating Perceptions, Use, & Impact of Open Textbooks: A survey of Post-Secondary Students in British Columbia

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Investigating the Perceptions, Use, and Impact of Open Textbooks: A survey of Post-Secondary Students in British Columbia

Rajiv Sunil Jhangiani, Surita Jhangiani, IRRODL, June 2017

This is a survey of 320 BC post-secondary students conducted over 3 terms (Spring, Summer & Fall of 2015) examining their textbook use and purchasing behaviour.

Modeled after the oft-quoted Florida Virtual Campus student survey on textbook use, this paper adds a critical Canadian-specific piece that has been missing around how students in our region use textbooks.

Some key findings from the research;

  • Over half the students reported not purchasing a textbook at least once. The students who were more likely to skip buying a textbook were likely to have a student loan and/or be working more hours per week than those who did buy a textbook.
  • 26% shared a textbook with a classmate.
  • 27% said they have taken fewer courses because of the cost of textbooks, with 17% dropping a course because of the cost of the textbook.
  • 4 out of 5 students report that they have been affected by high textbook costs in some way.

There is also data on what formats students are using (predominantly PDF), their print preferences (they prefer to print what they need than buy a finished print book), and their perception of open textbooks compared to commercial textbooks (96% perceive the quality of their open textbooks to be as good or better than commercial textbooks). Overall, the results of this study are similar to what is being seen in comparable US-based studies.

Originally published June 23, 2017 in the EdTech Factotum newsletter.

Photo: Open Textbook Summit 2015 by BCcampus CC-BY-SA

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