Success Story: Salt Lake Community College

At Salt Lake Community College, Math Students Score Higher Using Open Educational Resources


Improve students’ success in math, using high quality materials available at a lower cost to students.


Using OER-based MyOpenMath, an online math solution created with open educational resources (OER), SLCC provides an environment for math education that is more affordable, engaging and effective than the comparable commercial product. A course materials fee covers Lumen Learning support costs.


SLCC saw huge improvements in student success from developmental and college math course sections using OER as compared to those using commercial materials:

  • More passing grades: Students passing with a C or better increased from 59% in sections using commercial materials to 63% in sections using open educational resources (OER).
  • 67% more “A” students: 25% of students received As in sections using OER, compared to just 15% in sections using commercial materials, an overall increase of 67%.
  • Tens of thousands in cost savings: The approximately 250 students enrolled in OER-based courses saved more than $48,000 because their sections did not require commercial textbooks and online access fees.
  • 35% drop in failing students: Failing grades fell from 20% in sections using commercial materials to 13% in sections using OER, a decrease of 35%.
  • 27% fewer withdrawals: Withdrawals dropped from 6.4% in sections using commercial materials to 4.7% in courses that used open materials, a decrease of 27%.
  • 100% access on day 1: All students have complete digital access to all the course materials they need to succeed, starting on the first day of class.


Boosting student performance in math is an ongoing priority at Salt Lake Community College, which serves more than 30,000 students annually at 10 campuses across Utah’s Salt Lake Valley. During the 2013-2014 academic year, SLCC piloted open materials in several developmental and college math courses, using MyOpenMath supported by Lumen Learning. According to Math Department Head Suzanne Mozdy, SLCC had three goals:

1) Provide students with access to excellent course materials;

2) Lower the cost of these materials; and

3) Enhance the learning experience.

Previously, SLCC used a commercial publisher’s textbooks and online homework system in math courses, with costs averaging $200 or more per student, per course. Faculty members saw room for improvement. SLCC chose to pilot open materials with four courses: Developmental Math; Pre-algebra; Intermediate algebra; and Calculus 1. OER-based MyOpenMath offered open textbooks, video tutorials and algorithmically-generated problem sets for each course. SLCC contracted with Lumen Learning to provide hosting, technical support and faculty support to guarantee availability of core math curriculum.

SLCC implemented a course materials fee for OER-based course sections to recoup Lumen’s support costs. For students this offered >95% savings over the cost of commercial textbook and online access fees. Students were thrilled with the open alternative.


Together, the 257 students in OER sections saved more than $48,000 during the 2013-2014 academic year. SLCC faculty also saw a difference immediately. Unlike the commercial system, MyOpenMath offered every student free access to all course materials from the first day of class. Students engaged earlier and more deeply in the learning process. The MyOpenMath user experience compared favorably to the proprietary system.

Mozdy explained, “My students in open courses are doing better than the average students in the non-OER courses. They are more engaged, and they’re getting the math. I’m giving them the same exams, and they are outperforming students in the non-OER courses.”

Student learning data tell a powerful story about the positive impact of OER. In courses using OER, more students passed with a C or better and 35% fewer students failed. Withdrawals fell. The number of students earning A’s jumped by 67%. Data suggest that nearly a third of students who would have received B’s in courses using commercial materials received A’s in courses using open content.

Sustaining Success with OER

With student impact data in hand, SLCC administrators have quantifiable evidence about the positive impact of open educational resources. Responding to students’ demands for more sections that require no commercial textbook purchase, they are in the process of adding more sections and courses that use OER. The established course materials fee funds ongoing support for courses using open educational resources.

“We are encouraging faculty to look for open alternatives. Support from Lumen Learning makes the transition smooth for instructors and students. It also guarantees the quality and availability of the open materials that are becoming part of our core curriculum,” said Jason Pickavance, Director of Educational Initiatives at SLCC. “With students clearly benefitting in so many ways, we feel an obligation to keep moving forward with open content.”

Salt Lake Community College Profile

  • Publicly-funded community college
  • Serves ten campuses in the Salt Lake Valley
  • Approximately 30,000 students
  • Utah’s most diverse higher education institution


Learn More

Video: “They’re Getting the Math!”

Hear SLCC’s Math Department Chair Suzanne Mozdy and other Lumen clients share their experiences seeing the positive impact of open educational resources.

    SLCC Case Study: Printable PDF

    Download SLCC case study in PDF form.