Current Usage Patterns of Open Educational Resources in the Engineering Mechanics Classroom and Barriers to Adoption




Open Educational Resources, Textbooks, Course Materials, Diffusion of Innovation, Engineering Mechanics


Open Educational Resources (OER) represent a small but growing portion of the educational resources market, but the use of OER in engineering is limited. This study seeks to identify the current adoption patterns of OER in engineering mechanics courses and to identify barriers to adoption. Research questions are examined through the lens of Rodgers’ “Diffusion of Innovation” model. A survey of mechanics instructors across the United States, combined with publicly available data from university websites, helped identify instructor practices and opinions regarding OER. During the 2017-2018 academic year, widespread OER usage was found at only a handful of institutions. However, knowledge of OER among mechanics instructors was high, and many instructors reported an interest in OER for their courses. A lack of quality OER content for engineering mechanics courses seems to be the primary barrier to more widespread adoption.


Download data is not yet available.


Ackovska, N. & Ristov, S. 2014. OER approach for specific student groups in hardware-based courses. IEEE Transactions on Education 57(4):242-247. DOI:10.1109/TE.2014.2327007.

Allen, G., Guzman-Alvarez, A., Molinaro, M. & Larsen D. 2015. Assessing the impact and efficacy of the open-access ChemWiki textbook project [Internet]. EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Brief: Available at

Anderson, T., Gaines, A., Leachman, C. & Williamson, E.P. 2017. Faculty and instructor perceptions of open educational resources in engineering. The Reference Librarian 58(4):257-277. DOI:10.1080/02763877.2017.1355768.

Borrego, M., Cutler, S., Prince, M., Henderson, C. & Froyd J.E. 2013. Fidelity of implementation of research-based instructional strategies (RBIS) in engineering science courses. Journal of Engineering Education 102(3):394-425. DOI:10.1002/jee.20020.

Borrego, M., Froyd, J.E. & Hall, T.S. 2010. Diffusion of engineering education innovations: a survey of awareness and adoption rates in U.S. engineering departments. Journal of Engineering Education 99(3):185-207. DOI:10.1002/j.2168-9830.2010.tb01056.x.

Borrego, M. & Henderson C. 2014. Increasing the use of evidence-based teaching in STEM higher education: a comparison of eight change strategies. Journal of Engineering Education 103(2):220-252. DOI:10.1002/jee.20040.

College Board. 2017. Trends in higher education pricing 2017 [Internet]. New York (NY): College Board. Available at

Colvard, N.B., Watson, C.E. & Park H. 2018. The impact of open educational resources on various student success metrics. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 30(2):262-276.

Dancy, M. & Henderson, C. 2010. Pedagogical practices and instructional change of physics faculty. American Journal of Physics 78(10):1056-1063. DOI:10.1119/1.3446763.

Fowler, F.J. Jr. & Cosenza, C. 2009. Design and evaluation of survey questions. In: Bickman, L., Rog, D.J., editors. The SAGE Handbook of Applied Social Research Methods. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks (CA): SAGE Publications. p. 375-412.

Henderson, C. & Dancy, M.H. 2007. Physics faculty and educational researchers: divergent expectations as barriers to the diffusion of innovations. American Journal of Physics 76(1):79-91. DOI:10.1119/1.2800352.

Llamas-Nistal, M. & Mikic-Fonte, F.A. 2014. Generating OER by recording lectures: a case study. IEEE Transactions on Education 57(4):220-228. DOI:10.1109/TE.2014.2336630.

Moore, J. P. & Reinsfelder, T. L. 2018. Work in progress: a snapshot of OER adoption in engineering mechanics courses. Proceedings of the 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Salt Lake City, UT. Available at

Polis, J., Sinema, K., Curbelo, C., Nolan, R., Durbin, D. & King, A. 2017. The Affordable College Textbook Act [Internet]. Available at

Popken, B. 2015. College textbook prices have risen 1,041 percent since 1977 [Internet]. Available at

QingHua, Z., WeiHua, Z., ZheZhi, H. & RongHua, D. 2014. Improving aerospace engineering students' achievements by an open aero control experiment apparatus. IEEE Transactions on Education 57(4):229-234. DOI:10.1109/TE.2014.2326835.

Rhoads, J.F., Nauman, E., Holloway, B.M. & Krousgrill, C.M. 2014. The Purdue mechanics freeform classroom: a new approach to engineering mechanics education. Proceedings of the 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, IN. Available at

Rogers, E.M. 2003. Diffusion of Innovations. 5th ed. New York (NY): Free Press.

Seaman, J. & Seaman, J. 2017. Opening the textbook: educational resources in U.S. higher education, 2017 [Internet]. Babson Park (MA): Babson Survey Research Group. Available at

Senack, E. 2015. Open textbooks: the billion-dollar solution [Internet]. Washington (DC): The Student PIRGs. Available at

Tovar, E. & Piedra, N. 2014. Guest editorial: open educational resources in engineering education: various perspectives opening the education of engineers. IEEE Transactions on Education 57(4):213-219. DOI:10.1109/TE.2014.2359257.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. 2019. Open educational resources [Internet]. Menlo Park (CA): William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Available at

Winitzky-Stephens, J.R. & Pickavance, J. 2017. Open educational resources and student course outcomes: a multilevel analysis. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 18(4):35-49. DOI:10.19173/irrodl.v18i4.3118.

Yano, B. 2017. Connect OER annual report, 2016-2017 [Internet]. Washington (DC): SPARC. Available at




How to Cite

Moore, J., & Reinsfelder, T. (2020). Current Usage Patterns of Open Educational Resources in the Engineering Mechanics Classroom and Barriers to Adoption. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, (95).



Refereed Articles
Share |