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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Undergraduate Education

Community in Three Undergraduate University Science Courses: An Analysis of Student Perception


This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 39 No. 1, p. 157-164
    Received: Nov 17, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): rvavala@huskers.unl.edu
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  1. Robert V. Vavala *a,
  2. Deana Namuth-Coverta,
  3. Courtney Hainesb,
  4. Donald J. Leea,
  5. James W. Kingc and
  6. Carol Spetha
  1. a Dep. of Agronomy and Horticulture, 279 Plant Science Hall, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, 68583-0915
    b Dep. of Statistics, 340 Hardin Hall, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0963
    c Dep. of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication, 300 Agricultural Hall, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0709


Students who feel like part of a classroom community gain more enjoyment and are more academically successful than students who do not feel similar levels of community. This study intended to determine if students in online courses perceive the same level of community as students in face-to-face classes and if outside factors impacted community perceptions. The Classroom Community Survey (CCS) was administered to students in three introductory-level science classes, each with a face-to-face section and an online section. The CCS consists of 20 questions, measuring overall community and two subscales, connectedness and learning. Five possible responses were given scores of 1 through 5 for a total of 100 possible points. Demographic questions were asked to establish if out-of-class factors affected community scores. Students in face-to-face sections (n = 183, M = 58.10) had significantly higher community scores than online students (n = 74, M = 55.24), t (255) = 3.55, p < 0.05. Connectedness scores for students in face-to-face sections were significantly higher than scores for their online counterparts, t (255) = 2.81, p < 0.05. Scores for the learning subscale were not significantly different based on course delivery method, t (255) = –1.80, ns. Of the eight demographic questions, only the question regarding if the course was required had a significant impact on community scores, t (186) = 2.95, p < 0.05. Results of this study showed that face-to-face students perceived significantly higher levels of community than did online students. Perception of learning and course grades were not significantly different for students across delivery methods.

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