Term of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science, Applied Physical Science

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Chair

Leah Williams

Committee Member 1

Jessica Orvis

Committee Member 2

Shainaz Landge

Committee Member 3

Catherine MacGowan

Committee Member 3 Email



According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), college textbook prices have increased by 186% from 1986 to 2004.1 The impact of rising cost of textbooks is increasingly apparent as students are becoming more selective in the courses they enroll in, as well as more concerned with the quality of the learning experience they receive once enrolled in a course.1 In response to high textbook prices, open-education resources (OER) are increasingly becoming more accepted for student use as an alternative to traditional textbook options. OERs are open-source textbook and/or materials that are free to use without worrying about copyright laws.2 The authors on this study have created an OER textbook3 for engineering majors enrolled in an introductory general chemistry course. Understanding the impact this open-education resource on student success will allow us to explore and provide more cost-effective resources for our students. Specifically, we are interested in exploring how the use of these open-source materials may impact student learning, perceptions, and success when compared to traditional publisher-provided textbooks. We also intend to characterize additional resources used by students beyond their textbook to aid their studies. Understanding which resources students are using the most and why they find them to be useful will allow us to adapt and recommend better and more affordable resources to students. One of our studies compared students using a traditional textbook and students using our OER textbook. For the treatment group, there were significant correlations including an inverse relationship between using the internet as a resource and final grades. We also found statistically significant differences between the control and treatment groups concerning students' perceived helpfulness and use of textbook resources. In our second study we found that of the “official” resources, students use lecturer provided materials via Folio and materials generated during lecture the most and found them to be the most helpful. Of the “unofficial” resources, we found that free online study resources and peer messaging were used the most often and found to be more helpful than paid online study resources and paid or private tutoring.

Research Data and Supplementary Material