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Distance Education Teaching Methods and Student Responses in the Animal Sciences

, North Carolina State University, United States

North Carolina State University . Awarded


The overall objective of this dissertation is to observe whether or not an Anatomy & Physiology Distance Education (DistEd) course offered in the Animal Science Department will prove to be valuable in the learning process for students. Study 1 was conducted to determine whether gross anatomy of animals could be taught effectively at the undergraduate level using a DistEd delivery style. Students (n=159) completed an anatomy pre-test as well as a pre-survey to assess prior DistEd experience. Alternating each week, laboratory topics were presented either as face-to-face (F2F) or as virtual DistEd laboratories. Two laboratory examinations were administered and included material from both lab formats (DistEd and F2F). Questions from the pre-test were also included and used to generate the “post-test” scores. At the end of the semester, students completed a post-survey to determine if DistEd was a viable alternative to F2F. On exam 1, students achieved higher scores in fall 2008 (P<0.0001) on material presented via DistEd compared to that presented as F2F. However, in spring 2009 students scored higher on material presented as F2F. There was no effect of presentation method on exam 2 scores for either semester. Based on the post-survey, 79.3% of students in fall 2008 and 52% of students from spring 2009 agreed that DistEd laboratories were a viable alternative to F2F laboratories. The results of this study support the conclusion that anatomy material can be taught effectively by distance education methods. The objective of Study 2 was to determine if supplemental online resource (SOR) availability in a distance education (DistEd) format could enhance student learning. Students (n=137) in an undergraduate animal science laboratory course completed an anatomy pre-test and pre-survey to assess their experience with, and attitudes towards, SOR. Supplemental Online Resource modules were made available for randomly selected laboratories. Two laboratory practical exams were administered and included questions from labs for which SOR was made available as well as labs that had no SOR. Questions from the pre-test were included in the exams and used to generate “post-test” scores. On Laboratory Practical 1, students scored higher (P=0.0012) on questions from laboratories with SOR compared with laboratories without SOR (80±1% and 75±1%, resp.). In contrast, on Laboratory Practical 2, there was no effect of SOR supplementation on student scores (83±1% and 83±1%, for SOR and no SOR, resp.). A majority of students (93/137, 68%) surveyed indicated that SOR was at least somewhat useful for improving their grade. Study 3 was conducted to determine whether there was a relationship between undergraduate student cortisol levels, using a saliva collection method, and piglet cortisol levels during blood drawing procedures. Students (n=61) completed a pre-study survey and post-study survey to rate their opinion on statements centered on animals and how comfortable they were with handling animals. Salivary cortisol concentrations in students were determined on two occasions: during a laboratory lesson (recorded as baseline reading) and while students collected blood from 6-week old piglets. There was no significant difference between the students’ baseline cortisol concentrations and the cortisol concentrations the day of the blood sampling as well as between the piglets’ baseline cortisol concentrations and the cortisol concentrations the day of the study. When asked if the students preferred to let someone else draw blood from the piglet, there was no significant change in their salivary cortisol concentrations achieved during the procedure compared to their baseline concentrations, such that students did not exhibit significantly higher cortisol concentrations when interacting with the piglets.


Bing, J.Q. Distance Education Teaching Methods and Student Responses in the Animal Sciences. Ph.D. thesis, North Carolina State University. Retrieved January 17, 2022 from .

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