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Wednesday, October 17 • 2:20pm - 3:05pm
A Student Measure of the Quality of Open Digital Textbooks

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The cost of textbooks is a financial burden on many college students. Fortunately, the advent of open educational resources (OER) has allowed for the development of textbooks and other content at significantly reduced costs. Many college faculty are using OER to develop customized textbooks for their students, usually published online in a digital format. Pilot data show that many of these faculty desire quality feedback from their students to help them develop and improve their texts. However, there is no measurement model describing digital textbook quality from the student perspective. Such a model would allow for the development of a high fidelity rating instrument that could provide valid and reliable student feedback for faculty to use in improving their open digital textbooks. In this presentation I will describe and discuss results of a qualitative study conducted to develop this measurement model.

My study focused on two main research questions:

1. What are the most desirable characteristics of a high quality digital textbook from the perspective of college students?

2. How do these desirable characteristics translate into a measurement model of students’ perception of digital textbook quality?

To answer the first question, I used questionnaires, interviews, and published journal articles to identify the desired characteristics of digital textbooks from the college student perspective. Over 500 community college students using open textbooks as part of an ongoing OER initiative called Project Kaleidoscope (http://www.project-kaleidoscope.org) responded to a questionnaire containing closed and open-ended items. These items asked students about their perceptions of various properties of the textbooks they were using in their courses. Students who complete the questionnaire were given an opportunity to choose to be interviewed by phone about their perceptions of the quality of digital textbooks. Each interview lasted from 15-30 minutes and attempted to engage the students in a discussion about what made digital textbooks useful and interesting to them. Interviewing allowed for a much deeper exploration of students’ perceptions of textbook quality than could be obtained by questionnaires alone. Specifically, conducting interviews with students allowed for focused, clarifying discussions on the most often mentioned characteristics of digital textbooks in the questionnaire responses. Ten students completed interviews and their data was combined with the questionnaire data. Finally, I surveyed the literature on textbook evaluation. This archival data was used to frame the data that came from the questionnaire and interviews. Specifically, I compared what the experts on textbook evaluation suggested in the published literature with the themes and concerns expressed by the students.

To answer the second question, I used thematic analysis to explore the data from the questionnaires, interviews, and literature. The finalized themes from this analysis became the target constructs in an initial measurement model of digital textbook quality from the college students’ perspective.

Future work will include a quantitative study to evaluate and improve the measurement model. This validated model will then be used to create a high fidelity rating instrument that faculty can administer to their students to obtain valid and reliable feedback about their open digital textbooks.


Speakers
avatar for TJ Bliss

TJ Bliss

Program Officer, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Working to understand the costs, outcomes, use, and perceptions of OER. Passionate about my family, my religion, and my job.


Wednesday October 17, 2012 2:20pm - 3:05pm
C400

Attendees (15)