Comparison of Student Success in F2F Versus Online Soil Science Lab-based Courses Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/conference_proceedings_or_journals/2801ph629

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  • Traditional soil science courses, especially with a hands-on lab component, have been face-to-face events. CSS 205, Soils: Sustainable Ecosystems, an introductory soil course with a lab for non-majors, has been taught via online delivery for four years. Skeptics of online science lab classes abound. The question remains: how does an online course compare to an on-campus offering with respect to student learning? This study compares student learning results for an on-campus and an online version of the same course. Students in both modes were assessed for soils knowledge pre-course using identical tests; answers for the assessment were not released to the students. In each course the same lecture notes and lab assignments were used. Soils samples were mailed to online students and also used by on-campus students to provide consistent comparisons between the courses. Assessment at the end of the term consisted of assessment questions from the pre-assessment, additional course-relevant questions, and hand-texturing using the known texture samples. Results indicate no significant difference in final student success between the online and on-campus students. However, the path taken to reach that learning level was significantly different between the two groups. The study reveals interesting learning differences between the online learners and the on-campus F2F learners. Overall, field and laboratory skills are learned by the online population and indicate that laboratory classes can be taught online effectively.
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