Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


SMITH, Shane V., School of Environmental & Sustainability Sciences, Kean University, Union, NJ 07083,

It is essential in this time of decreasing performance of US students in science versus other developed nations that science educators develop strategies to interest and engage students when teaching science. Online courses provide an opportunity to deliver geoscience to diverse student populations using free, easily-accessible, real-world technologies and cyberinformatics to design assignments, lab activities, and virtual field trips. I designed and delivered the online version of Environmental Geology/Environmental Geology Lab (GEOL 1500/1500L) an introductory geoscience course for non-STEM majors at Youngstown State University (YSU). I took advantage of web-based applications (including Gapminder World, Google Earth, Virtual Earthquake, and Virtual River), YouTube, and webcams to create assignments, lab activities, and virtual field trips that together with Blackboard provided an engaging, virtual learning environment.

Comparing submission rates of coursework in online versus face-to-face introductory geoscience courses for non-STEM majors demonstrates higher submission rates in online courses. Comparisons were made between the online version of GEOL 1500/1500L and face-to-face versions of The Dynamic Earth (GEOL 1504) and Introduction to Oceanography (GEOL 2602) that I taught at YSU. GEOL 1504 and GEOL 2602 had assignment submission rates that averaged 68-80% per semester while GEOL 1500/1500L had submission rates that averaged 88% per semester with individual assignments having a 100% submission rate which is not seen in GEOL 1504 and GEOL 2602. A higher submission rate in GEOL 1500/1500L correlated to a lower percentage of students with grades of D and F in GEOL 1500/1500 than GEOL 1504 and GEOL 2602. One possible explanation for the higher assignment submission rates in GEOL 1500/1500L is the asynchronous format of the online course that permitted 24/7 access for students to complete and submit their coursework at times that were chosen by students rather than times set by the university course schedule. Review of submission times revealed that students submitted their coursework over a large range of time with few students submitting coursework during the times (8 AM to 5 PM) that face-to-face courses are traditionally offered.