The Motivations and Experiences of Students Enrolled in Online Science Courses at the Community College
An important question in online learning involves how to effectively motivate and retain students in science online courses. There is a dearth of research and knowledge about the experiences of students enrolled in online science courses in community colleges which has impeded the proper development and implementation of online courses and retention of students in the online environment. This study sought to provide an understanding of the relationships among each of the following variables: self-efficacy, task value, negative-achievement emotions, self-regulation learning strategies (metacognition), learning strategy (elaboration), and course satisfaction to student's performance (course final grade). Bandura's social-cognitive theory was used as a framework to describe the relationships among students' motivational beliefs (perceived task value, self-efficacy, and self-regulation) and emotions (frustration and boredom) with the dependent variables (elaboration and overall course satisfaction).
A mixed-method design was used with a survey instrumentation and student interviews. A variety of science online courses in biology, genetics, astronomy, nutrition, and chemistry were surveyed in two community colleges. Community colleges students (N = 107) completed a questionnaire during enrollment in a variety of online science online courses. Upon course completion, 12 respondents were randomly selected for follow-up in-depth interviews.
Multiple regression results from the study indicate perceived task value and self-regulatory learning strategies (metacognition) were as important predictors for students' use of elaboration, while self-efficacy and the number of prior online courses was not significant predictors for students' elaboration when all four predictors were included. Frustration was a significant negative predictor of overall course satisfaction, and boredom unexpectedly emerged as a positive predictor when frustration was also in the model. In addition, the correlations indicated that elaboration and overall course satisfaction were not significantly related to participants' course grade (performance). Furthermore, five major themes emerged from the students' experiences: the role of personal dispositions, academic challenge, self-regulated learning, student communication, and the negative emotions that shaped student experiences. In particular, negative emotions most experienced by students were found to be anxiety, stress, frustration and confusion.
In total, results from this study implicate an important role of emotions such as frustration in students' overall course satisfaction and the importance of task value. Students' career aspirations and direct use of the course content were more likely to report greater use of elaboration strategies. Finally, this research also found that students self-regulated their learning in the online environment on a variety of levels.
Type of Publication
Colorado State University
Nation(s) of Study