A Study of the Results of the Initial Offering of an Online Climate Course at a Minority Serving Institution

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Richard Marshall Jones, University of Hawaii, Kaploei, HI

Handout (4.3 MB)

This poster presentation is designed to relay the findings from student survey data collected from 23 University level students enrolled in the first offering of a wholly online version of the AMS Undergraduate Studies Climate Course. This course (MET 209) is being funded as part of the AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project and the students in this initial cohort were primarily first generation college attendees and represented a range of demographics including a large percentage of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders as well as students of Filipino decent. Data was collected via an online survey that included 21 questions, twelve of which were Likert items that compared the students rating of this Climate Course to the Campus, College, Division, and Department Mean values for all General Education courses. Preliminary results indicated that the means for five of the twelve Likert items were above the Campus, College, Division, and Department Means; four of the items were tied and three were relatively low scoring compared to Campus, College, Division, and Department Means. While I am disappointed by these lower scores it is important to note that for question 10 and 18, 88% of students respond with either a five or a four and for question one, 66% responded with a four or a five rating. I believe that one reason for these lower scores is the primarily online nature of this hybrid course. For some students who did not participate in the weekly investigations work sessions, as much as 100 percent of the course material and interactions were student driven and done through web access, via email, and over the phone. Even with these lower items, scores indicate that the students agree that the instructor is meeting the needs of the students.

In addition to the Likert questions there were five questions that encouraged open response and student comment. These questions were focused on the enhancement of personal and/or professional development, activities and resources that could be added to the course to improve learning, improving the course and/or the instructor's teaching style and methods, overall evaluation of the instructor, and overall evaluation of course. While the responses for the question centered on personal and/or professional development were limited and included, “I did not take this course for my major.” However, one comment, “This course helped me to enhance myself in the personal discipline department. It held me accountable for planning things out, as most online classes you will not be reminded by someone when things are due. However, when I didn't need help with anything Dr. Jones was always willing to do so. This course does not really relate to my major but it has helped me become a better student none the less”, suggests that the students' participation has enhanced their personal and/or professional development and that they had a positive learning experience as well. The second to the last question on the end of tem evaluation focused on the students overall evaluation of the course and all the comments were very positive with several indicating that the course was “I liked it :)”, “good”, and “that it is a good physical science course to take. It helps with shaping responsibility of the students since it is part hybrid where we have to turn in our own work and choose to go in and see the teacher.” Probably the most meaningful comment however, is “Now that I think about it, this was a really well-structured course. The textbooks really went hand-in-hand with the online websites. Although it was very confusing at first to wrap my head around all of the different websites we had to use, it was really straightforward once I got into the routine. The midterm and final exams were time-consuming but still generally easy to complete (except when the answers were hard to find). I think that this was a really great course, and I hope if I take any more online classes they take advice from Professor Jones haha.” This was my goal, to create a well structured, yet challenging online introductory science course.

I realize that this first offering of for MET 209 has been a learning experience for me as well as for the students. The overall comments suggest that have been on target with the majority of my teaching goals. But, I am a realist and I know that I can't please every student every semester and I when I get comments that suggest that my teaching is not up to UHWO standards I will do my best to reflect on my practice, refocus my teaching, and redesign my courses to be more student centered, process oriented, friendly, and accommodating in order to meet the needs of all of my students. The remaining questions addressed the amount of time spent on homework and the overall effectiveness of the instructor, which incidentally was 4.78, that places my performance close to a grade of “A”. The poster will display these comments and Likert comparison data from the students and describe how the responses from this first offering of Climate Science as part of the AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project will drive the continued development of this course and other online science offerings at my institution.