OER Project Spotlight: an open textbook for introductory thermodynamics

OER Grant Funded Project Spotlight: Introductory thermodynamics: an open textbook for engineering undergraduate students

Project title: Introductory Thermodynamics: an open textbook for engineering undergraduate students
Project Lead:  Claire Yan (UBCO Faculty, Engineering)
Project team: Amaiya Khardenavis (UBCO MASc student) and with support from: Donna Langille (Librarian, UBCO), Erin Fields (Librarian, UBCV), Claire Swanson (Open Education, UBCV) and Kristen Morgen (CTL, UBCO)

Background on the Open Educational Resource (OER) project.
This project aims to create an open textbook on introductory engineering thermodynamics, which will be published on Pressbooks with Creative Commons license. Over the past few years, UBCO Engineering faculty member, Dr. Claire Yan, has developed learning modules while teaching thermodynamics. Building upon these learning modules, the proposed open textbook will be tailor-made to contain the most fundamental topics of classical thermodynamics suitable for an entry-level undergraduate course and revised to ensure all materials, including tables and graphs, have an open license. In addition, this project will create interactive H5P questions for each chapter of the open textbook intended for students to practice key concepts and perform self-assessment.

Why go Open?
Several years ago, Dr. Yan used an online homework system provided by a book publisher in one of her courses. Students were required to purchase the ebook and the associated code. From students’ feedback, she realized that more than half of the class felt that the ebook was too expensive for a single course. This incident gave her insight on students’ differing social-economic situations. From then on, Dr. Yan looked for ways to not only help students learn effectively, but to make learning materials more affordable. During her search, she came across BC Campus, open education, and Pressbooks. As this open textbook will be published on Pressbooks with a Creative Commons License, other authors and users can freely download the book and reuse or remix the content to suit their course or learning needs.

Project Impact for UBCO Students, Staff, and Faculty?
Thermodynamics is a fundamental subject in many engineering, physics and chemistry disciplines. The outcome of this project will be an open textbook with sufficient content coverage for an entry-level, three-credit, one-term engineering thermodynamics course. Upon its completion, the open textbook can be adopted in APSC 252 Thermodynamics, which typically has an enrolment of about 400. The open textbook created through this project can also be used by upper-year engineering students as a refresher.

This project will allow instructors to transition from commercial textbooks to OER. Being open sourced, the content of the proposed open textbook may be remixed, reused or updated by a broader teaching and learning community in engineering and sciences. The benefit to students is a more concise and freely-accessible alternative to expensive commercial textbooks, which will help reduce the financial stress to many students.

Advice from the team for those considering OERs
Searching for open repositories and Pressbooks formatting takes time. Thankfully, Donna (UBCO Library), Erin (UBC Library), Claire (Open Education), and Kristen (CTL) have supported me by providing necessary resources. More and more people, both instructors and students are joining the community. There are more resources and support than you may think. If you have an idea, make it happen!

Learn more about the
Open Educational Resources Grant Program.

Explore other grant funded OER project spotlights: 

Context-Embedded Guided-Inquiry Learning Modules for Large Introductory Chemistry Courses

Introducing Ainu Content to Japanese Language Students

Fostering best practices in reproducible analyses