The focus of this project funded by the National Science Foundation is to understand how students and faculty actually use textbooks in undergraduate mathematics courses and to use that understanding to produce textbooks that are more effective in promoting student learning. The major components of the project involve education research, resource development, dissemination, and evaluation.
The education research concentrates on the use of textbooks in linear algebra and abstract algebra, two courses that are taught in every mathematics department. The experimental course sections use highly interactive online textbooks, while the control sections use more traditional textbooks.
The resource development includes substantial work to make PreTeXT (formerly MathBook XML) more capable and comprehensive, editorial work on several existing open source textbooks to improve and enhance them in various ways, and the creation of a repository for Sage cells so they can be shared and reused.
Our dissemination plans include presentations at meetings, a workshop for authors and editors, and continuing work by the AIM Editorial Board evaluating open source/access textbooks.
Continual and ongoing evaluation is an integral part of the project and will be overseen by an external evaluator and an advisory board.