Textbook Champion

Philip Smith

Course Number: 
PSYC 1010 (all sections)
Approximate Student Savings per Semester: 
$40,000
What has the impact of the change been (for students and you/the teaching team)?: 
Over 700 students take introductory psychology, so those cost savings add up each year—over $75,000 this summer and fall alone. (This is our 5th year using the Noba OER.) In surveys students report that the text helps their learning and is enjoyable; they overwhelmingly recommend continuing with an open educational resource.
What would you say to other faculty members who are considering switching to OER?: 
If a high-quality OER is available, it is a great benefit to students. Although much research remains to be done, to date there is not evidence that high-quality OERs lead to less learning than do costly publishers’ texts. That leads me to think that the high-quality OER makes sense as the default choice. An additional benefit of many OERs—that I have yet to utilize—is that they can be adapted and revised by the instructor. This year my Psychology 1010 text has been put into Pressbooks, and so I can easily make small revisions, adding, for example, commentary about current events, new research, or Canadian data; inviting students to edit sections of a text as part of an assignment is also a possibility.
Why did you want to switch to an open textbook/OER?: 
The initial motivation was to reduce student cost if that could be done without reducing the quality of the educational resources we were assigning. The professors in introductory psychology, as a group, have a history of being cost-conscious, weighing cost when making selection decisions. Even so, the cost of an introductory text remained at least $100, even when that meant temporary/rental access to an electronic version. We identified the Noba Project modules as high-quality material from which we could each build our own texts, and make those available online, free to students. This fall the introductory psychology instructors, in addition to me, include Dr. Stacey MacKinnon, Dr. Jason Doiron, and Cheryl Wartman.