Political Science Education and the Profession

Using Free Online Readings to Teach Introduction to American Government

Chelsea Kaufman Wingate University
Several studies have examined using electronic textbooks as compared to print textbooks, or open educational resources (OER) compared to commercial textbooks. Fewer studies, however, examine the use of free or low-cost online readings that are not an OER textbook or assigned in conjunction with a textbook. In my introductory American Government course, all assigned course readings were items that students could access for free online or through the university library. The use of these free or low-cost materials should have provided similar benefits to students as the adoption of an OER textbook typically would, namely cost savings. At the same time, they could have drawbacks similar to OERs and electronic textbooks, such as students having difficulty finding information within the text or accessing materials if they do not have home Internet access. Furthermore, this approach required more preparatory work for the instructor.