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Comparing Student Satisfaction in Full-Term vs. Half-Term Online Course: Results of a Pilot Study

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Pedagogy and Its Impact on Faculty and Students

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

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Paper Authors


Eugene Rutz University of Cincinnati

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Eugene Rutz is Academic Director in the College of Engineering & Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati. Responsibilities include oversight of eLearning initiatives, working with high schools on engineering coursework, and academic oversight of the Master of Engineering program. Eugene serves as co-PI on an NSF sponsored Math and Science partnership grant and PI on other grants that examine the intersection of instructional technology and learning.

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Thomas Richard Huston University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Thomas Huston is an Associate Professor in the Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME) Department within the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Huston has been a member of the engineering faculty at the University of Cincinnati since 1985. He is the Director of the Design Clinic for MME and oversees the capstone design projects for the Senior Mechanical Engineering students. Dr. Huston also serves as the Deputy Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Engineering program of the NIOSH Education and Research Center (ERC) at the University of Cincinnati. An alumnus of the University of Cincinnati, he completed his formal education there with a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering in 1985.

Dr. Huston has a broad range of interest in engineering including quality, safety, manufacturing, and ergonomics. Dr. Huston has also been on the forefront of innovative teaching within CEAS with the development and instruction of distance learning courses.

The CEAS has designated Dr. Huston a Master Educator. He has been honored with awards by the university, college, and department for his teaching.

Dr. Huston is a registered Professional Engineer within the State of Ohio and is also a Certified Safety Professional. He holds memberships within many professional and technical societies.

Outside of his academic role at the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Huston maintains an active engineering consulting practice. He has consulted with local industry, government agencies, and is frequently sought after as a forensic expert witness.

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There are an increasing number of degree programs for working professionals offered online. Significant characteristics associated with these programs include persistence in the program and time to degree completion. It is common in online programs for students to register for two courses a term so as to complete the degree in a timely manner. Likewise, to encourage persistence and thus timely degree completion a number of programs are being implemented wherein courses are taught in half semester sessions. In this way a student can complete two courses in a semester while focusing on one topic at a time.

The University of ___ offers an online degree program targeted to working engineers. Courses in the program are offered in half-semester sessions with most students taking two courses per semester. One course offered through the program is Quality Control. This course was initially developed as a full semester fully online course several years before the establishment of the online degree program. The content and learning outcomes are identical for the full semester course and the half semester course.

In this paper we compare student evaluations for the half-semester versus full-semester versions of the course. Two distinct evaluations are examined: the traditional college evaluation that is administered to all students in all courses and an evaluation designed specifically for online courses. The evaluations examine student satisfaction with the content, the format, and the instructor as well as perceived learning. A variety of factors are considered using a 5 point Likert scale as well as open ended student comments. We also discuss instructor considerations and satisfaction with the courses taught on the different time scales.

The literature on student satisfaction for “intensive” courses is primarily drawn from students in education programs and liberal arts programs. Understanding the preferences of working engineers for this format is beneficial. Student participation in this study was too small to draw definitive conclusions, however results do help define opportunities for improved communication and student satisfaction for this population.

Rutz, E., & Huston, T. R. (2017, June), Comparing Student Satisfaction in Full-Term vs. Half-Term Online Course: Results of a Pilot Study Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28053

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