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GSW’s Orton Grissett receives OER Research Fellowship

AMERICUS — Judy Orton Grissett, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, recently received an Open Educational Resource (OER) Research Fellowship from the Open Education Group.
The Open Education Group conducts interdisciplinary research on the educational outcomes of OER adoption as wells as designs frameworks for studying the impact of OERs. The Research Fellowship is funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and facilitated by the Open Education Group.
Orton Grissett has a longstanding interest in free and open-source software.
“As a graduate student, I used OpenOffice and Linux not only because they were free but also because I liked the idea that they were open access,” she said. “I find OERs appealing for the same reasons.
“In a world where proprietary ownership of learning materials is standard, allowing more students to have access to something so basic as textbooks and other educational materials just makes sense,” she added. “Many of our students have enough challenges along the way to earning a degree. Expensive textbooks shouldn’t be one of them.”
Orton Grissett also serves as the Affordable Learning Georgia Campus Champion for Georgia Southwestern. In this role, she provides current resources and information about open-source materials to GSW faculty and instructional staff. In the last few months, GSW faculty have earned Affordable Learning Georgia Textbook Transformation Grants in psychology, sociology and music, saving student’s approximately $215,000 in textbook cost.
“Georgia Southwestern is ranked as a best value among small colleges,” said Interim President Charles Patterson. “By serving as early adopters in the move towards Open Educational Resources we are able to reduce the cost of course materials, keeping the cost of higher education affordable and allowing students to focus more of their effort on the learning experience.”
As part of her fellowship, Orton Grissett will receive funding to attend two conferences, one of which will be the Open Education Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, in November 2015. In addition, she will receive mentoring in OER research and guidance in identifying, researching and writing specific OER projects.
The fellowship will also allow Orton Grissett to contribute to the growing body of literature supporting the use of OERs.
Orton Grissett has previously researched the impact of OERs. In the spring, she and Charles Huffman, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Psychology and Sociology, conducted a study on student perceptions on OERs and their effectiveness in an introductory psychology course.
“We found that students who used an OER preferred using them in the future. We found the opposite trend among students who used a traditional paper textbook (they preferred a paper textbook),” said Orton Grissett. “Although not conclusive, these findings are exciting because they suggest that students who have a positive experience with OERs are more receptive to using them in the future. This fellowship will allow me to further address this and related questions about OERs though additional research.”