Ramlo, Susan (2017). Student views regarding online freshmen physics courses. Research in Science & Technological Education, 35(4), 461-476. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02635143.2017.1353961) (Previously listed as in press)

Abstract: Background: Nationally, many public universities have started to move into the online course and program market that was previously associated with for-profit institutions of higher education. Public university administrators state that students seek the flexibility of online courses. But do students want to take courses online, especially freshmen-level science courses perceived to be difficult? Purpose: This study investigated student views related to the potential of a physics course they were currently enrolled in being offered online. Sample: This study took place at a large, public, mid-western university and involved students enrolled in either the first or second semester of a face-to-face flipped physics course for engineering technology majors. Design and Methods: Discussions with students during the semester about their online course experiences and expectations were used to develop the concourse and subsequently the Q sample to perform a Q methodology study about students’ views regarding taking physics courses online. Additional statements for the concourse and Q sample were taken from communications with administrators at the university. In this way, the statements sorted by the students included those from students and those from administrators. Factor analysis of the Q sorts resulted in three factors, each representing a unique perspective. Interpretations of these perspectives included the analyses of the Q sorts, the researcher’s interactions with students and administrators, and students’ written responses regarding their previous online course experiences and their sorting decisions. Results: Three unique student views emerged were named: keeping it real and face-to-face, Online could be ok depending upon the course and instructor, and Online not for STEM classes. Consensus among the views is also discussed. Conclusions: Overall, students’ views are negative concerning having physics courses, including labs, online and those views conflict with statements expressed by administrators regarding students’ desires for online courses at the university.

Sue Ramlo <sramlo> is in the Departments of Engineering & Science Technology and Curricular & Instructional Studies, University of Akron, OH, USA.