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Open Research Award

Textbook Broke: Textbook Affordability as a Social Justice Issue

CSU Channel Islands (United States)

This research study shows the disproportionately negative impact of textbook costs on historically underserved college students, thus, confirming textbook affordability as a social justice issue.

In light of rising textbook prices, open education resources (OER) have been shown to decrease non-tuition costs, while simultaneously increasing academic access, student performance, and time-to-graduation rates. Yet very little research to date has explored OER’s specific impact on those who are presumed to benefit most from this potential: historically underserved students. This reality has left a significant gap of understanding in the current body of literature, resulting in calls for more empirically based examinations of OER through a social justice lens. For each of these reasons, this study explored the impact of OER and textbook pricing among racial/ethnic minority students, low-income students, and first-generation college students at a four-year Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in Southern California. Drawing upon more than 700 undergraduate surveys, our univariate, bivariate and multivariate results revealed textbook costs to be a substantial barrier for most students. However, those barriers were even more significant among historically underserved college students; thus, confirming textbook affordability as a redistributive justice issue, and positing OER as a potential avenue for realizing a more socially just college experience.

About Open Research Award

A research study or initiative about open education and/or related areas. A study or initiative that helps advance our understanding and demonstrate effectiveness related to challenges of the Open Education movement.