Analysis of Student and Faculty Perceptions of Textbook Costs in Higher Education

Michael Troy Martin, Olga Maria Belikov, John Hilton III, David Wiley, Lane Fischer


The cost of textbooks has continued to impact students in higher education. Students have reported that they make decisions on which courses to take based on the specific cost of textbooks. Faculty have reported willingness to use open textbooks to help ease the burden on students but are unsure where to find viable options. We examined the responses of 676 students and 573 faculty from a large private university (Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah) to understand the real impact of textbooks costs to students and how they are dealing with this ongoing problem. We found that 66% of students at this institution have not purchased a textbook due to cost. We also discovered that 91% of faculty at this institution would be willing to use OER alternatives and that 53% of them would welcome assistance identifying and adapting materials for their course.


Cost of higher education; open educational resources; open textbooks; OER

Full Text:



Allen, N. (2010). A cover to cover solution: How open textbooks are the path to textbook affordability. Retrieved from

Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2014). Opening the curriculum: Open educational resources in US Higher Education, 2014. Babson Survey Research Group.

Bliss, T. J., Hilton III, J., Wiley, D., & Thanos, K. (2013). The cost and quality of online open textbooks: Perceptions of community college faculty and students. First Monday, 18(1).

Bliss, T., Robinson, T. J., Hilton, J., & Wiley, D. (2013). An OER COUP: College teacher and student perceptions of Open Educational Resources. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2013(1), 1–25.

Brandt, L. W. (1964). How does one select an introductory textbook? Contemporary Psychology, 9(8), 332-332.

Candlin, C.N. & Breen, M.P. (1979). Evaluating, adapting and innovating language teaching materials. In C. Yorio, K. Perkins and J. Schacter (Eds.) On TESOL '79: The learner in focus (pp. 86-108). Washington, D.C.: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Caswell, T. (2012). The Open Course Library of the Washington State Colleges. In D. G. Oblinger (ed.). Game changers: Education and information technologies (pp. 259-262). Washington D.C.: Educause.

Chastain, K. (1971). The development of modern language skills: Theory to practice (pp. 376-384). Philadelphia: The Center for Curriculum Development, Inc.

College Board (2013). Trends in college pricing 2013. Retrieved from

Daoud, A. & Celce-Murcia, M. (1979). Selecting and evaluating a textbook. In M. Celce-Murcia & L. McIntosh (Eds.). Teaching English as a second or foreign language (pp. 302-307). Cambridge, MA: Newbury House Publishers.

Fischer, L., Hilton III, J., Robinson, T.J. & Wiley, D. (2015). A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 27(3), 159-172.

Florida Virtual Campus. (2012). 2012 Florida Student Textbook Survey. Tallahassee, FL. Retrieved from

Franzen, R. H., & Knight, F. B. (1922). Textbook Selection. York, PA: Warwick & York, Inc.

Hilton III, J. L. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Education Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 573-590.

Hilton III, J. L., & Wiley, D. (2011). Open access textbooks and financial sustainability: A case study on Flat World Knowledge. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(5), 18-26.

Kingkade, T. (2011, November 8). Rising costs force students to skimp on textbooks. Huffington Post.

Lee, D., van der Klaauw, W., Haughwout, A., Brown, M., & Scally, J. (2014). Staff Reports: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Number 668, JEL classification: D12, D14, I22. Retrieved from

Littlejohn, A. (1996). The analysis of language teaching materials: Inside the Trojan Horse. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.). Materials development in language teaching (pp. 191-213). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Oakes, J. & Saunders, M. (2002). Access to Textbooks, Instructional Materials, Equipment, and Technology: Inadequacy and Inequality in California’s Public Schools. UCLA: UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access. Retrieved from

Ortony, A., Clore, G. L., & Collins, A. (1990). The cognitive structure of emotions. Cambridge university press.

Pell Institute, The (2015). Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States. Retrieved from:

Selnack, E. (2014). Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How Students Respond to High Textbook Costs. Center for Public Interest, Inc. Retrieved from

Sheldon, L. (1988). Evaluating ELT textbooks and materials. ELT Journal, 42(4), 237-246.

Skierso, A. (1991). Textbook selection and evaluation. In M. Celce Murcia (Ed.). Teaching English as a second or foreign language (pp.432- 453). Boston: Heinle and Heinle.

Tucker, C. A. (1975). Evaluating beginning textbooks. English Teaching Forum, 13, 355-361.

Ur, P. (1996). A course in language teaching: Practice & Theory (pp. 184-187). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Whitehouse (2016). “College Scorecard.” Retrieved in May 11, 2016 from

Wiley, D. (2014, March 5). The Access Compromise and the 5th R. Iterating toward openness. Retrieved from

Williams, D. (1983). Developing Criteria for Textbook Evaluation. ELT Journal, 37(3).



  • There are currently no refbacks.