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A preliminary examination of the cost savings and learning impacts of using open textbooks in middle and high school science classes

  • David Wiley Brigham Young University
  • John Levi Hilton III Brigham Young University
  • Shelley Ellington
  • Tiffany Hall
Keywords: cost, Open educational resources, remix, reuse, open textbooks, electronic textbooks, Flat World Knowledge, open access


Proponents of open educational resources claim that significant cost savings are possible when open textbooks displace traditional textbooks in the classroom. Over a period of two years, we worked with 20 middle and high school science teachers (collectively teaching approximately 3,900 students) who adopted open textbooks to understand the process and determine the overall cost of such an adoption. The teachers deployed open textbooks in multiple ways. Some of these methods cost more than traditional textbooks; however, we did identify and implement a successful model of open textbook adoption that reduces costs by over 50% compared to the cost of adopting traditional textbooks. In addition, we examined the standardized test scores of students using the open textbooks and found no apparent differences in the results of students who used open textbooks compared with previous years when the same teachers’ students used traditional textbooks. However, given the limited sample of participating teachers, further investigation is needed.

Author Biographies

David Wiley, Brigham Young University
David Wielly is an Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University.
John Levi Hilton III, Brigham Young University
John Hilton III is an Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University.
How to Cite
Wiley, D., Hilton III, J. L., Ellington, S., & Hall, T. (2012). A preliminary examination of the cost savings and learning impacts of using open textbooks in middle and high school science classes. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(3), 262-276.
Research Articles