EARTH FUTURES: A BLENDED GENERAL EDUCATION COURSE AT THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY
The online version is taught to a diverse body of students from around the world including adult learners, while the blended version is taught to a more homogeneous group of students on campus. One semester per year, the online and blended sections are taught simultaneously; in the other semester, the online section is taught on its own. Enrollments in the fully online sections are typically between 50 and 80, while the blended sections are capped at 25 students. The blended course is instructed in a versatile state-of-the art classroom in which students are able to work in teams of two or three. Since students do not receive help for the online laboratories, the exercises are shorter than the blended versions. Online laboratories are graded automatically within the course management system whereas the blended section laboratories are graded by hand. In addition to laboratories, assessment includes weekly self-reflection blogs and quizzes as well as midterms. The simultaneous instruction provides a unique opportunity to compare the strengths and weaknesses for the blended and fully online mode of delivery. We have evaluated student learning using two instruments developed by the NSF-InTeGrate GEO-STEP center, the Geoscience Literacy Exam (GLE), designed to quantify the effectiveness of the course on students' geoscience literacy, and the Student Attitudinal Survey intended to probe students' ability and motivation to use their geoscience expertise to address problems of environmental sustainability:
In this presentation we will present the results of the two evaluation instruments for blended and fully online mode of instruction for two and three semesters, respectively.