Date of Award

May 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

Committee Member

Matthew Boyer

Committee Member

Cynthia Haynes

Committee Member

Phillip Wilder

Committee Member

John Hilton


The Open Textbook Network (OTN)—an organization based out of the University of Minnesota and comprising over 1,000 postsecondary institutions—supports the open education movement by facilitating in-person workshops about, sharing training resources for, and curating a library of peer-reviewed open textbooks. Its efforts are meant to build awareness of open education among attendees by teaching them about the positive potential of open textbooks in addressing the rising costs of attending college, waning public investment in higher education, increasing pedagogical dependence on the course materials of commercial publishers, and curbing other barriers to affordability, access, and equity in higher education. While many instructors who have attended OTN workshops went on to review and adopt open textbooks in their course or, at least, leave the experience with an intent to explore open textbook use in the future, a small population (n=76) openly admitted to having no interest in open textbooks. The following manuscript recounts the study of this previously unresearched population of nonusers. Leveraging grounded theory methods based in values coding (Saldaña, 2009) and situational analysis (Clarke, 2005), this exploratory, interview-based study derived a new theoretical explanation for the motivating values of modern educators that informed their sentiments toward adopting new instructional tools and techniques—like those aligned with open education. The resulting theory of educative reticence posits that faculty members recognize how disclosure of their instructional practices—no matter how favorable they might be for teaching and learning—makes them accountable to the professional development outcomes, institutional standards, and disciplinary expectations of others. In this specific case, instructors who indicated disinterest in open textbook adoption were likely to veil their exploration of alternative (even equivalent) means for reaching desired technological outcomes.



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