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Open Educational Resources (OER) & Textbook Equity

What is Textbook Equity?

We aspire that all UNI students have access to high-quality course materials that are: affordable, accessible, and inclusive.

Studies indicate that courses with free materials have an average 29% lower withdrawal rate than those with commercial textbooks (Clinton & Khan, 2019; n=78,000). And Pell-eligible, part-time, non-white, & international students benefit the most when course materials are free/affordable (Colvard, Watson, & Park, 2018; Delgado, Delgado & Hilton, 2019).


Why is Textbook Equity important at the UNI?

In a spring 2021 survey (n = 688), UNI students reported they:

  • share books (61%).
  • avoid purchase of required texts (48%).
  • change sections or avoid registering for a specific course/section due to textbook costs (29%).
  • have earned a poor or failing grade due to textbook costs (23%).
  • have dropped a course or taken fewer courses due to textbook costs (19%).

In addition, Open Educational Resources (OER) are modifiable, so faculty can adjust content as they wish. This means the potential for more creative and culturally inclusive pedagogy! 

UNI Students' Perspectives on Textbook Costs (Video) 

Rod Library's Affordable Textbook Initiative has saved UNI students ​up to $400,000 per year due to open textbook adoptions.

Student Cost Savings by College 

UNI faculty saved students more than $284,000 in 2021 through reported use of Open Educational Resources (OER)!

  • Faculty reporting OER use in one or more courses: 14
  • Colleges represented:
    • College of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences (11 faculty)
    • College of Social & Behavioral Sciences (1)
    • College of Business (1)
    • College of Education (1)

Student Cost Savings by College bar graph

Get Involved! 

Textbook Equity at the National Level 

There are a number of ways to address textbook equity, as shown below. This guide primarily focuses on Open Educational Resources (OER).

Affordable course materials Venn diagram

Image courtesy: Abbey Elder (public domain)

Why Open Textbooks?