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Undergraduate Student Learning Gains and Satisfaction in Online and In-Person Animal Science Courses

Neu, Abby E., Stern, Marshall D., Martinson, Krishona L.
Journal of natural resources and life sciences education 2017 v.46 no.1
animal nutrition, college students, learning, online courses, pets, surveys, universities, Minnesota
The number of colleges offering online courses is increasing. A survey showed 31% of students take at least one online course during college. However, limited data exists on learning gains and satisfaction from online animal science courses. The objective was to evaluate learning gains and satisfaction with animal science courses offered in-person and online at the University of Minnesota (UMN). Both courses offered in-person and online sections for two academic years. Researchers collected data from two introductory-level courses, Companion Animal Nutrition and Care and Horse Management, to assess learning gains and satisfaction of the two delivery methods. Learning gains were assessed by comparing pre- and post-tests. Satisfaction was evaluated through questions administered through the UMN’s Student Rating of Teaching. Learning gains (12–41%) occurred in both courses and delivery methods, with in-person students having greater gains in three of the four course years (P ≤ 0.01). Satisfaction was high among both courses and delivery methods (≥4.8 on 6.0 scale), although in-person students reported higher ratings compared with online students in some instances (P ≤ 0.01). When evaluating undergraduate, introductory-level online and in-person courses, students utilizing both delivery methods experienced learning gains and were satisfied. Based on these results, online courses can be successfully used to teach undergraduate students introductory-level animal science courses.