UA Partners With OpenStax to Promote Free Textbooks

The University is a new partner with Rice University in promoting open educational resources to students as a cost-savings measure.
Aug. 31, 2016
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For more information on the UA's open educational resource initiatives, visit http://oer.arizona.edu.

The University of Arizona is one of 11 schools chosen to participate in a strategic partnership with OpenStax to encourage the use of free, peer-reviewed textbooks on campus.

OpenStax, an initiative of Rice University, offers 19 free college-level textbooks in the areas of math, science, the social sciences and the humanities.

Open educational resources, including the free, peer-reviewed textbooks offered by OpenStax, help eliminate cost barriers for students and allow students immediate access to learning materials.

The cost of textbooks is an important issue nationally. In a 2014 report, the United States Public Interest Research Group explained that nearly half of students surveyed said textbook costs impacted how many or which classes they took each semester.

The UA was selected to participate in the program after a rigorous application process that included demonstrating a willingness to drive adoption of open educational resources, or OER.

"By participating in the OpenStax OER Institutional Partnership Program, I am confident we can provide more free textbooks and make an even bigger impact on student success and retention," said Karen Williams, dean of the University Libraries.

Strategic partners also will receive individualized consulting and support from OpenStax to implement widespread use of open educational resources at their schools.

Since 2012, OpenStax textbooks have been used by hundreds of thousands of students across the globe, saving them more than $68 million. OpenStax texts meet standard scope and sequence requirements and are peer-reviewed by educators to ensure accuracy and ease of use.

At the UA, students used two OpenStax textbooks during the 2015-2016 academic year: 2,052 students used "Introductory Statistics" and 312 students used "College Physics." Both free textbooks replaced commercial textbooks that retail for $240 and $243, respectively.

The UA has been active in promoting open educational resources since 2014.

University Libraries is one of the collaborators on UA's OER Action Committee, which was established to advance the use of open textbooks. Other collaborators include the Office of Instruction and Assessment, the UA BookStores, the Office of Digital Learning, University Information Technology Services, the Disability Resource Center and student government representatives.