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BYU conducts study with free textbooks and student performance

Three BYU professors conducted a study examining open, free textbooks for college students in comparison to traditional textbooks which cost money.

Lane Fisher, David Wiley and John Hilton III are the researchers involved in the study.

The national average cost of textbooks students spend during their four years attending college is $4800, according to BYU.

“Over the span of multiple studies, the researchers found that 85 percent of both students and instructors believed open textbooks were good or better than traditional textbooks,” according to BYU. “The results also show that students learn the same amount, or more, from open textbooks when compared with traditional textbooks.”

Ivy League schools and other prestigious universities have started to adopt an open textbook policy for their students and have been able to cut costs, according to the study.

“Although the savings to students and school boards are significant, the effect on the content within the books themselves may be even more important,” according to BYU. “The open licenses allow instructors to integrate new content and materials into the books themselves, customizing them for their students.”

Professors are able to have students create updates for the textbook and seek suggestions for improvements.

“Given the present research, policy makers, researchers and educators need to carefully examine the ethics of requiring students to purchase traditional textbooks when high-quality openly licensed alternatives are freely available,” according to BYU.

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