We also asked demographic data. Respondents from both sections were similar: almost all men in each (the course is mainly taken by Computer Science and Philosophy majors), evenly divided among 2nd, 3rd, 4th year students plus a couple of grad students in each (Logic II is required for the Philosophy PhD program). Student in W16 expected higher grades than those in F15, but that may well be just an effect of differences in assessment and grading style rather than better student performance.
In the Winter term 2016, I taught the University of Calgary’s second logic course from a textbook remixed from the Open Logic Project. Traditionally, Logic II has used Boolos, Burgess & Jeffrey’s Computability and Logic, and it was taught in Fall 2015 using that book as the required text by my colleague Ali Kazmi, and before that by him, Nicole, and me twice a year from that same book. One aim Nicole and I had specifically for the OLP was that it should provide a better text for Logic II, since neither we nor our students seemed to be very happy with “BBJ”. In order to ascertain that the OLP-derived text fares better with students, we did something radical: we asked them what they thought of it. Ali graciously gave permission to run the same textbook survey in his class, so we have something of a baseline. A direct comparison of the two books as textbooks for the course is not easily made, since Ali and I used the books differently: I stuck closer to my text than he did to BBJ; I assigned homework problems from the text; and we assessed students differently, so it’s difficult to control for or compare teaching outcomes. With small samples like ours the results are probably also not statistically significant. But the results are nevertheless interesting, I think, and also gratifying. We obtained clearance from the Conjoint Faculties Research Ethics Board for the study. All students in each section of Logic II in F15 and W16 were sent links to an electronic survey. As an incentive to participate, one respondent from each group was selected to receive a $100 gift certificate to the University of Calgary bookstore. The surveys were started in the last week of classes and remained open for 3 weeks each. Response rates were comparable (23/43 in F15, 23/42 in W16). The survey was anonymous and administered by staff from the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning; results were not given to us until past the grade appeal deadline in W16. We asked 23 questions. The first three regarded how students accessed and used the textbooks. In the F15 section, the textbook was not made available electronically, but students were expected to buy their own copy (about $40). Most respondents did that, although almost a quarter apparently pirated electronic copies. In W16, the OLP-derived text was available for free in PDF and students had the option to buy a print copy at $10. Over half the respondents still opted to buy a copy. We asked students how they used the texts in hardcopy and electronic form. Textbook Assessment and Usage Scale” by Regan Gurung and Ryan Martin. On all but one of these questions, the OLP-derived text scored positive (4 or 5 on a 5-point Likert scale) from over half the respondents. The discrepancy to students’ opinions of BBJ is starkest in the overall evaluations: