P497: Comparison of general chemistry students’ use of open-source texts versus traditional paper texts
A major concern of the education system (K-12 or college) is the cost of educating our students. This includes the price of textbooks, a cost that has grown over time. The use of open-source content has obvious appeal because of the material’s low cost to the students and/or the school district that purchases the text. Additional benefits of open-source materials include the ability of the instructor to alter the materials to fit the learning goals of the course, ease of access, and the fact that the materials can contain components not possible in traditional texts such as videos that explain text figures or provide worked examples. This study evaluated the use of an open-source general chemistry textbook in a second semester course at a small, public, liberal arts college. The study compared students’ use of the open-source textbook to those who used a traditional paper textbook. Data was collected on how both groups of students used their texts during the semester, including which portions of the text they used, how many times they used them, and how helpful they found each portion. In the group using open-source material additional data on video viewing and timeline of use was evaluated through the collection of Google analytics. Within each group, students’ performance in the class was evaluated to determine whether differences in text use could be identified between low and high performing students. The results of these comparisons will be presented and implications for the use of open-source materials will be discussed.