Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Dane Joseph, PhD

Second Advisor

Karen Buchanan, EdD

Third Advisor

Terry Huffman, PhD


The cost of attending a college or university increases each year. Many institutions of higher education have examined ways to reduce student debt. One potential method to reduce this debt and encourage student retention is through the use of open education resources (OERs) (Couglan, et al, 2013; Islim et al, 2016). “It is well documented in the literature that high-quality OERs can lead to significant financial benefits” (Colvard et al, 2018, p. 263). Also, “previous studies have found that a majority of faculty and students perceive OERs to be equal to, or better than, commercial textbooks in terms of quality” (Colvard et al, 2018, p. 263).

College is increasingly expensive and the cost of educational materials can be a barrier to equitable education opportunities. According to Colvard et al. (2018), students who are burdened with unmet financial needs are more likely to postpone enrollment in higher education, or may decide to not attend college at all. This decision to delay or forgo participation in higher education can have a significant impact on future career and employment opportunities (Colvard et al, 2018; Wiley et al, 2014). Furthermore, some students will choose to attend college, but not purchase textbooks or expensive educational materials; which may negatively impact their ability to learn course material, be successful in classes, and possibly affect their ability to continue learning in their chosen discipline (Colvard et al, 2018).

Wiley et al. (2014) stated that, “at the heart of the open educational resources movement is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the World Wide Web in particular provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse that knowledge” (p. 781). Research shows that OERs can support student achievement and retention by making access to learning materials easier, affordable, and more equitable (Colvard et al, 2018; Wiley et al, 2014). Research exists in several areas in higher education regarding the use of OERs, but not necessarily research that is specific to every discipline (Adams et al, 2013; Hilton, 2016). Currently, there is a general lack of knowledge regarding the use of OERs within dental hygiene (DH) curricula.

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