Date of Award:

2013

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

Heidi Wengreen

Abstract

The purpose of this research endeavor was to identify and apply effective strategies to evaluate the efficacy of a university-level general education hybrid nutrition course offered to distance education and on-campus students. A review of relevant literature indicated that student engagement levels, student characteristics, and the use of instructional technology are important to consider when evaluating postsecondary learning environments. Furthermore, the balance of asynchronous and synchronous learning activities within hybrid learning environments should be deemed suitable for the subject matter as well as the receiving student population. Finally, student perceptions and learning outcomes should also be assessed by hybrid course evaluations. The study described in this work established that a standardized general education hybrid nutrition course offered by Utah State University can effectively facilitate learning while generating positive student perceptions from the majority of enrolled distance education and on-campus cohorts alike. All course materials were available online, and were supplemented with weekly, synchronous recitation sessions. Interestingly, the learning outcomes and satisfaction rates of the two student cohorts were similar. However, notable differences in learning preference and performance were identified based on student age alone. Modifications to subsequent versions of the evaluated hybrid course were made based on the findings of the study. Other instructors and course design teams involved in postsecondary nutrition education may view this project as an outline for their own hybrid course development and evaluation efforts, although, limitations did exist and should be acknowledged. An experimental design exhibiting more control over potential extraneous variables, such as instructor, could offer more concrete evidence than the observational nature of the present study. Also, it appears that students' success levels in a given learning environment are not only influenced by instructional measures, but also by the personal and contextual factors of each individual student. Future evaluative efforts should place a greater emphasis on exhibited learning patterns, educational background, and academic discipline of students within the hybrid learning environment. Ultimately, the primary challenge of a modern-day hybrid course is to offer a cohesive and effective blend of uniformity, customization, flexibility, and instructional guidance based on anticipated needs of students.

Share

COinS