Exploring Best Practices for Online STEM Courses: Active Learning, Interaction & Assessment Design





Assessment, active learning, online interaction, online learning, online courses, online education, online STEM courses, STEM education


The purpose of this study was to examine effective design practices for online courses in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at a large four-year public university in southeastern United States. Our research questions addressed the influence of online design practices on students’ perception of learning and learning satisfaction. An online survey was completed by 537 students from 15 online STEM courses in spring 2016. The survey results indicated that effective online STEM courses integrated active learning activities, interactive engagement strategies, and robust assessments. In particular, assessment design significantly impacted students’ self-perceived learning and learning satisfaction for students of all populations. The findings inform instructors and instructional designers on how to design effective, inclusive, and engaging online STEM curriculum. Online STEM instructors are strongly encouraged to utilize the Universal Design for Learning principles in course design, which benefit all students including students with disabilities.

Author Biographies

Baiyun Chen, University of Central Florida

Dr. Baiyun Chen is a Senior Instructional Designer at the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida.

Kathleen Bastedo, University of Central Florida

Kathleen Bastedo is an Instructional Designer at the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida.

Wendy Howard, University of Central Florida

Dr. Wendy Howard is the Program Manager of the Pegasus Innovation Lab at the University of Central Florida.


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Special Issue: National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA)