A Baseline Study of the Impact of Faculty Awareness of Open Educational Resources on Faculty Perception of Open Educational Resources

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Haupt, Scott
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Middle Tennessee State University
The importance of textbooks and other materials to the educational process cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, the prices on these vital learning materials have continued to grow steadily year over year (Hanson, 2021). Open educational resources (OER), which are “teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities” (Creative Commons, 2020) have been offered by some educational pundits as a potential means of addressing these skyrocketing prices (Parks et al., 2020; Wiley, 2007). This nonexperimental, baseline study sought to analyze the relationship between faculty awareness of OER and their perceptions of OER as a viable alternative for or supplement to the more traditional publisher textbooks and resources. The survey instrument, created by Elder (2018) and administered by Elder et al. (2020), was used to collect demographic information, gauge current knowledge and awareness of OER, measure respondents’ awareness of the OER development support systems available to them, gauge interest in OER, assess familiarity with open licensing, and get a pulse on discipline-specific considerations from among the responding population. The researcher interpreted participants’ self-reported awareness and perception of OER through a primarily quantitative lens to maintain a narrow focus on these variables, though a fair amount of qualitative coding was required for various open-ended questions to allow for those parts to be included in the subsequent analysis in SPSS. Via a chi-square test of independence, the researcher was forced to reject the research hypothesis and was unable to determine if a significant relation existed between faculty awareness of OER and faculty perceptions of OER. This inability to make a determination likely resulted from (1) a low response rate; (2) a plurality of respondents who were already well-versed in the topic; and (3) a tendency for possible respondents who were less than familiar with the topic to shy away from completing the survey for fear of negatively impacting the data (though this last possibility can only be linked anecdotally). It was determined that additional research is warranted to assess the degree to which the findings of this study are generalizable to the university teaching population as a whole; a follow-up study with minor tweaks in methodology could address the issues that occurred during this study. Nevertheless, the results of this study can serve as a starting point for further research and communications.
Awareness, OER, Perception, Higher education administration, Educational leadership, Educational evaluation