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Motivation and interest in online courses

M. D. Stern

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Motivation and interest in online courses
M. D. Stern*, A. E. Neu, K. L. Martinson. University of Minnesota Saint Paul, MN, USA.

Popularity of online learning is increasing so rapidly that it is difficult to estimate growth. A survey published in 2016 showed that 31% of higher education students take at least one online course during their collegiate career and the rate of growth for online enrollment exceeds that of over-all higher education student enrollment. Because of demographic changes of animal science students, an introductory Companion Animal Nutrition and Care course was developed to meet the demand of urban and pre-veterinary students. To make this course more accessible campus-wide, an on-line section was offered as an elective to all majors. Because of the interest in equine species, Horse Management is another popular introductory animal science course offered in-person and online at the University of Minnesota (UMN). Data were collected using these two courses for two consecutive academic years to assess learning gains and satisfaction for the two delivery methods. Learning gains were assessed by comparing pre vs post-test scores. Learning gains (from 12 to 41%) occurred in both courses and delivery methods, with in-person students achieving greater gains in three of the four course years (P ≤ 0.01). Satisfaction was evaluated using questions administered through the UMN’s Student Rating of Teaching (SRT). Satisfaction was high among both courses and delivery methods (≥ 4.8 on a 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. Another approach to using online tools to interest students in upper level animal science courses such as Ruminant Nutrition, is to restructure and offer a blended-course (in-person and online). Because of decreases in dairy/beef production students, the course was also revamped to include exotic ruminants. These modifications to the course doubled student numbers.

Keywords: teaching, online, learning.

Biography: Professor Marshall D. Stern, University of Minnesota, has been described as an awesome teacher, mentor and innovator who is well known for his extensive use of technology and media in the classroom to enhance active student learning. Marshall has received many teaching awards including: ADSA Land O’Lakes Dairy Production Teaching Award,  ASAS Distinguished Teacher Award, ASAS Teaching Fellow, and the ADSA Nutrition Professionals, Inc. Applied Dairy Nutrition Award for Teaching and Research,  among others.  Dr. Stern’s commitment to teaching, advising and curriculum development has contributed significantly to Animal and Dairy Science.