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  1. Open Educational Resources (OER) are widely used instructional materials that are freely available and promote equitable access. OER research at the undergraduate level largely focuses on measuring student experiences with using the low cost resources, and instructor awareness of resources and perceived barriers to use. Little is known about how instructors work with materials based on their unique teaching context. To explore how instructors engage with OER, we surveyed users of CourseSource , an open-access, peer-reviewed journal that publishes lessons primarily for undergraduate biology courses. We asked questions aligned with the OER life cycle, which is a framework that includes the phases: Search , Evaluation , Adaptation , Use , and Share . The results show that OER users come from a variety of institution types and positions, generally have positions that focus more on teaching than research, and use scientific teaching practices. To determine how instructors engage throughout the OER life cycle, we examined the frequency of survey responses. Notable trends include that instructors search and evaluate OER based on alignment to course needs, quality of the materials, and ease of implementation. In addition, instructors frequently modify the published materials for their classroom context and use them in amore »variety of course environments. The results of this work can help developers design current and future OER repositories to better coincide with undergraduate instructor needs and aid content producers in creating materials that encourage implementation by their colleagues.« less
  2. Abstract Background

    The first day of class helps students learn about what to expect from their instructors and courses. Messaging used by instructors, which varies in content and approach on the first day, shapes classroom social dynamics and can affect subsequent learning in a course. Prior work established the non-content Instructor Talk Framework to describe the language that instructors use to create learning environments, but little is known about the extent to which students detect those messages. In this study, we paired first day classroom observation data with results from student surveys to measure how readily students in introductory STEM courses detect non-content Instructor Talk.


    To learn more about the instructor and student first day experiences, we studied 11 introductory STEM courses at two different institutions. The classroom observation data were used to characterize course structure and use of non-content Instructor Talk. The data revealed that all instructors spent time discussing their instructional practices, building instructor/student relationships, and sharing strategies for success with their students. After class, we surveyed students about the messages their instructors shared during the first day of class and determined that the majority of students from within each course detected messaging that occurred at a higher frequency.more »For lower frequency messaging, we identified nuances in what students detected that may help instructors as they plan their first day of class.


    For instructors who dedicate the first day of class to establishing positive learning environments, these findings provide support that students are detecting the messages. Additionally, this study highlights the importance of instructors prioritizing the messages they deem most important and giving them adequate attention to more effectively reach students. Setting a positive classroom environment on the first day may lead to long-term impacts on student motivation and course retention. These outcomes are relevant for all students, but in particular for students in introductory STEM courses which are often critical prerequisites for being in a major.

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