Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Linda Bol

Committee Member

Sue Kimmel

Committee Member

Monica C. Esqueda


The academic outcomes of retention, completion, persistence and final exam scores between courses taught with open educational resources (OER) and courses taught with publisher content (non-OER) were investigated in this mixed method sequential study. The perceptions and experiences of the instructors who taught the courses were also explored. The participants were 215 community college students enrolled in an online section of Introduction to Communication (CST 110), Western Civilization (HIS 111), Applied Calculus (MTH 270) or Introduction to Psychology (PSY 201). Four instructors volunteered to teach an OER section and a non-OER section within each discipline. Students were randomly divided into an OER section or non-OER section. Publishers donated the access codes for their digital content websites, thereby negating the cost for both sections. Students were compared between the OER and non-OER sections by fours measures: number of students left in the sections at the drop date, number of students who completed with a C or better, the number of students who finished the course, and the mean of the final exam scores. The four instructors were interviewed after the semester was over. The interview questions were based on the open education pedagogy COUP as the theoretical framework. The quantitative results indicated students in the OER sections retained and persisted at a significant higher rate. No significance was found in completion and the final exam scores between the OER and non-OER course sections. The interviews revealed the instructors preferred OER for quality, adaptability, student and teaching benefits. This research lends credibility to former studies indicating higher retention and persistence rates in courses taught with OER material. Community college practitioners should make the adoption of OER course materials part of a broader initiative for student success.


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