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An Open-Source Soils Laboratory Manual


The high textbook cost has become a financial burden for many students, leading many to forgo purchasing required textbooks. Open textbooks and laboratory manuals present a viable long-term solution.

In an article recently published in Natural Sciences Education, the authors present the Soils Laboratory Manual, an open-source laboratory manual for undergraduate, introductory soil science courses. In addition, they surveyed students in an introductory soil science class at Kansas State University to gauge impacts of high textbook costs, views towards open textbooks and textbook format, and use of the Soils Laboratory Manual.

The Soils Laboratory Manual, included as supplementary material to the article, is available for adoption and adaption in other courses. Instructor copies and supporting materials are available here. The survey highlighted negative financial and academic impacts from high textbook costs. This laboratory manual saved students a cumulative $12,410 per semester for a class of 120 students, relative to the cost of the commercial laboratory manual used prior to the adoption of the Soils Laboratory Manual.

The Soils Laboratory Manual serves as an open educational resource for instructors, helps reduce costs of textbooks for students, and serves as a model for developing open-source laboratory manuals in other lab-based courses. 

Read the full open access article in Natural Sciences Education