Faculty Survey Finds Awareness of Open Educational Resources Low but Improving

Research shows greater use of open resources in high enrollment introductory courses but awareness challenges remain

​​​​​Awareness of open educational resources (OER) among U.S. higher education teaching faculty has improved, but still remains less than a majority, according to a new report from the Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG).

Will You Use Open Educational Resources in the Next Three Years?

Will You Use Open Educational Resources in the Next Three Years?

​​​​​icon orange  Yes

​​​​​icon green  Will Consider

​​​​​icon navy  Might Consider

​​​​​icon light green  Not Interested

​​​​​icon teal  No Opinion/Don’t Know

Survey results, using responses of over 3,000 faculty, show that OER status is not a driving force in the selection of educational materials—with the most cited barrier being the effort required to find and evaluate such materials. While use of open resources is low overall, it is somewhat higher among large enrollment introductory-level courses.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Faculty awareness of OER has increased, with 25% of faculty reporting that they were “Aware” or “Very Aware” of open educational resources, up from 20% last year.
  • Only 5.3% of courses are using open textbooks (includes public domain and Creative Commons licensed).
  • Large enrollment introductory undergraduate courses have adopted openly licensed OpenStax College textbooks at twice the rate (10%) as openly licensed textbooks among all courses.
  • The most common factor cited by faculty when selecting educational resources was the cost to the students. After cost, the next most common was the comprehensiveness of the resource, followed by how easy it was to find.
  • There is a serious disconnect between how many faculty consider a factor in selecting educational resources and how satisfied they are with the state of that factor. Faculty are least satisfied with the cost of textbooks, yet that is the most commonly listed factor for why they select resources.
  • The barriers to adopting OER most often cited by faculty are that “there are not enough resources for my subject” (49%), it is “too hard to find what I need” (48%) and “there is no comprehensive catalog of resources” (45%).

Dr. Jeff Seaman, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group, said, “While the overall use of OER for required course materials remains low, it is showing progress. The 10% adoption rate for textbooks from OpenStax College for large enrollment undergraduate courses is close to the average 17% adoption rate that an individual commercial text has in these same courses.”

“There is potential for growth for OER, as many faculty report that they are willing to try these resources. However, while faculty cite cost to the student more than any other factor in selecting educational materials, concerns about the time and effort it takes to find and evaluate these materials remains a significant barrier to wider adoption.”

The complete report, Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2015-16 is released under a Creative Commons license.

About Babson Survey Research Group

The Babson Survey Research Group at Babson College conducts regional, national, and international research projects, including survey design, sampling methodology, data integrity, statistical analyses and reporting.

About Babson College​​

Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader of Entrepreneurship of All Kinds®​. The top​-ranked college for entrepreneurship education, Babson is a dynamic living and learning laboratory where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society. We prepare the entrepreneurial leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to make a difference in the world, and have an impact on organizations of all sizes and types. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value.​​​​​

By Michael Chmura, mchmura@babson.edu, 781-239-4549 | 7/25/2016 10:00 PM