This mixed-methods study evaluated quality, usage, and perceptions of open educational resources compared to traditionally published textbooks. Because textbooks and other related materials make up a significant portion of educational costs, open educational resources have been explored for potential cost savings at all levels of education. These resources use public domain or open-licensed materials as the content component of free eTextbooks or low-cost printed textbooks. This evaluation explores how teachers and students use textbook resources both in and out of the classroom and the degree to which the content and design of open textbooks compares in quality and value to traditional textbooks. Data came through evaluating the print media design and content quality of the books in a Utah pilot program, analyzing the actual textbook artifacts from students, and conducting teacher surveys and interviews. The data points to clear differences in quality and use between the two types of books. Although the open textbooks are generally a lower quality product than traditional publisher produced textbooks, they were used in unique ways. Teachers who participated in the open textbook development tended to value the book as a resource, leading us to conclude that the ability to customize open resources may be an important determinant of textbook use. However, it is also likely that textbooks have only a minor affect on academic outcomes compared to other more problematic pedagogical and educational policy issues. This evaluation points to the need for additional study on the impact these differences have on learning outcomes.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





open educational resources, open textbooks, textbook design, textbook use