To celebrate Open Education Week (March 27-31), a team from University Libraries partnered with the Student Government Association to bring the #textbookbroke campaign to FSU. #Textbookbroke is a national campaign aimed at informing students about Open Textbooks, Open Educational Resources, and alternatives to traditional textbooks. It is also aimed at empowering students to provide feedback on their course materials and encourage their instructors to explore more affordable alternatives.
To that end, we organized two well-attended tabling events at Strozier and Dirac, with the goal of engaging with as many students as possible over the course of each event. We created an engagement display board where students could share the most they have spent on textbooks in a single semester, and we also encouraged students to complete a short survey on how the textbook affordability problem has affected them.
Over the course of the events, we spoke with hundreds of students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and at different stages of their educational careers. 316 students contributed to the engagement board, and 350 submitted responses to the student survey. Overall, the data from the engagement board suggests that $407.32 is the average maximum amount spent by students on textbooks in a single term across all disciplines. Some of the more striking findings from the survey include the following:
- 93% of students would use an online textbook if it was free
- 97% of students feel that a $30 print textbook would reduce financial strain
- 72% of students have decided not to purchase a required textbook due to high cost
- 11% of students have decided not to take a course due to the cost of the textbook
These findings not only underline the impact of the textbook affordability problem on FSU students, but also suggest that the vast majority of our students would support broader adoption of OERs and Open Textbooks at FSU. We believe that students can play a key role in promoting such broader adoption by becoming advocates for OER on campus, and we hope that our many conversations with students during #textbookbrokeFSU will inspire them to take action to that end. At the same time, FSU Libraries is doing its part to support FSU instructors in adopting more open, affordable course materials through an Alternative Textbook Grants program that launched in late 2016.
This is an exciting time for open education at FSU, and our team is looking forward to continuing to advocate for change in this space, providing both students and instructors with the information and resources they need to make a difference! For more information about the open education movement and related initiatives at FSU, see our research guide on OER, or contact Devin Soper, Scholarly Communications Librarian at FSU Libraries’ Office of Digital Research & Scholarship.