Measuring Teaching Practices to Inform Change in Online Undergraduate STEM Courses
Over many decades, education researchers and practitioners have developed validated instruments for studying traditional in-person classroom-based teaching practices. These instruments are not easily adaptable to the virtual classrooms. The use of technology – particularly online instruction – alters instructional realities and practices (Major, 2015).
The recent and rapid increase in online teaching presents new challenges in studying teaching practices, including the development and validation of new instruments. This project developed and validated two instruments for measuring online teaching approaches: an observation protocol and a self-report questionnaire.
Key drivers for this study were the ideas that measurement produces improvement (The National Academy of Engineering, 2009), and the potential to promote more effective teaching practices in undergraduate STEM courses. The online environment provides a unique learning space that has the potential to be either more or less inclusive for diverse learners. Our goal is to engage in discussion about the potential for this type of work in initiating conversations that could lead to more welcoming learning spaces for online undergraduate STEM courses.
Data were collected through multiple phases and included both systematic observations and self-report methodologies. The final phase includes a sample of 250 instructors.
Preliminary results suggest that both instruments can be used to reliably collect non-evaluative data for the description and study of online courses. This research was supported by a National Science Foundation grant, and the instruments will be shared with participants and are free to use.