In the Affordable Resources for Learning survey, the Promise Scholars students were also asked how familiar they were with OER. They were provided with a brief definition of OER. The piechart below shows how students responded to this question.

Piechart indicating Promise scholars’ familiarity with OER

Eighty-percent of the students respondents shared that they were not familiar with OER, 17.8% were somewhat familiar, and only 2% were very familiar with them. While 80% of the respondents indicated that they were not familiar with OER, they seemed to have a good grasp of the benefit associated with using Open Educational Resources. Below is a breakdown of how students think they might benefit.

Piechart showing OER benefits as viewed by student respondents

Only 8.9% of the respondents were not sure how they would benefit from using OER. A total of 75.6% said they would save on textbook costs, and 12.6% mentioned how they would take more units if they have affordable learning  resources. It is vital for the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to have in place an open education policy that help ensure students from all backgrounds have access to resources and are prepared to contribute to the society in various capacities when they graduate. SPARC touches on policy frameworks that eliminate barriers to Open Education. According to SPARC, policies from the Federal government, institutions, and even individual academic departments “may include mission statements, human resource policy, intellectual property policy, professional development programs, resource allocation decisions, and sustainability models” (SPARC, 2018).

Asked how they might advocate for OER use by faculty, 4.4% of the student respondents stated that they were not sure. Forty-four percent of the survey takers said they would talk to their professor and fellow students about OER. Of all the respondents, 33% said they would tell fellow students, while 17.8% indicated that they would share the information about OER with their professor. Some of the surveyed students understood the importance of advocating for OER. They had a good grasp of how vital it is to have affordable alternative learning resources such as OER.

To end the survey, the Promise Scholars were asked to share their thoughts about the UCSB library’s role in OER initiatives as well as any other comments they might have.

From the responses given, 5 students had no ideas to share. Forty-one respondents supported the idea of OER. The responses varied, with some respondents stating that the library pursuing more OER adoption is a great way for students to get more affordable textbooks resulting in students not having to worry about taking a certain class due to the textbook costs. It is vital to amplify the voices of the students; as such, below are their responses, in their own words.

  1. “I think the library could advertise these resources more effectively”
  2. “That sounds amazing!”
  3. “It will help students have access to books”
  4. “It would be very useful for first generation students like myself during financial difficult times”
  5. “This would is a great idea for students that don’t have the same resources as others, especially during these times”
  6. “I feel that the cost of materials is extremely high, especially during this time of the pandemic. Many students do not know when they will be receiving steady income again and should not have to stress about being able to get books for school”
  7. “I love the idea!”
  8. “I think the library pursuing more OER adoption is a great way for students to get more affordable textbooks/readings and to not worry about taking a certain class due to the textbook costs”
  9. “It would be very beneficial for me and others if the library adopted more OERs.”
  10. “I feel like I don’t use the library as much as I should because I don’t know about the resources that they actually offer. I only use it to find research articles for my papers, but that’s pretty much it”
  11. “Please help spread the use of OER’s”
  12. “The library serves a vital role in providing the necessary tools and resources for students in their classes, research projects, etc. Having more OER implemented into the UCSB library system will further allow accessibility to reach students who struggle to pay for textbooks and provide relief for gauchos”
  13. I have trouble usually finding Education texts online and need to make the purchase, so I feel like trying to cover as many departments even with just one textbook from each would be helpful
  14. “If they end up OER adoption, they would make everything more accessible for those who cannot afford books or who are in a budget”
  15. “Pursuing more OER adoption will truly benefit students for saving cost of textbooks! I think the library could do more to let student be familiar with OER because it is my first time hearing this resource. If there is such a good resource, but people don’t know and don’t use it, it would be a pity”
  16. “I think this is great. Would be a huge help!”
  17. “I think this is a great idea. I would really appreciate having these resources at the library even if I don’t use them all the time, I would feel safe knowing if anything were to happen to me where I would need them they would be there”
  18. “I feel that this would be very helpful. Money is one of the major stresses and I would probably cry to have even a slight relief regarding that aspect of my life”
  19. “Have a way for new students to access it easier”
  20. “That would be especially useful. Please do it. Thank you!”
  21. “I think it would be especially helpful now that a lot of students do not have access to the library or other students who could give them textbooks”
  22. “I support the library in pursuing more OERs at UCSB because I feel like it can help many students reduce their textbook costs, especially during these difficult times”
  23. “I think OER would be a great opportunity for students to gain better access to textbooks and other academic resources”
  24. “I feel like the library could really help if it were to provide the assigned textbooks to students which would”
  25. “help ease some of the financial stress that they carry”
  26. “Library has been a great source for me for when textbooks are getting too much”
  27. “This would be a great resource directly from campus as students tend to look at outside sources that can’t be as accommodating or helpful as OER on campus”
  28. “It would be so beneficial!”
  29. “I am 100% sure that having more OERs at UCSB will help out a ton of students. Thank you!”
  30. “I think it’s such a great idea as it will benefit many students who are not able to afford some of the expensive textbooks”
  31. “I completely support this”
  32. “I think the library is a great source for students’ access to textbooks, and having more OER options would help.”
  33. “I think textbooks should be accessible at no cost or at least be able to be rented”
  34. “I think this would be a great opportunity for students with a lower income threshold because it would relive the stress of spending hundreds of dollars on text books”
  35. “I would fully utilize this and look forward to UCSB adopted more OER”
  36. “I believe this would be a huge help not only for myself but for my classmates and peers”
  37. “The library is doing a great job as is trying to get the word out about OER’s through this survey”
  38. “It would benefit my education”
  39. “I think it’s a great idea and could be a strong resource for students to use”
  40. “I think this is an incredible idea”
  41. “It would relieve so much stress to know that I can easily access the books for any class that I sign up for”

The voices of the majority of respondents indicate a dire need for affordable learning resources. There are several reasons why faculty should consider using OER. The core reason being meeting student needs for affordable learning resources. According to SPARC, “When it comes to the ‘why’ for open education, the answer always comes back to students. The commonly-cited reason for open education is around the cost barriers to accessing a quality education” (SPARC, 2018).

It is vital to seriously listen to students’ voices and find ways to support their learning needs. This support can be achieved by working with faculty and encouraging them to consider incorporating OER into their teaching. Through OER and Open Education in general, faculty can engage with students not as mere consumers of information, but also as knowledge producers actively participating in the knowledge production process and bringing into their learning their lived experiences and cultures. Students need affordable, quality, and accessible learning resources like OER in order to succeed in their program and ultimately contribute positively to their communities and society at large.




Share This Book