Improving Distance Learning at Community Colleges

This project will describe and promote the effectiveness of distance learning in STEM gateway courses in the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) – a national pioneer in distance learning with five specific objectives: (i) to document typical instructional approaches in online STEM gateway courses offered at community colleges; (ii) to identify promising intervention strategies that have the potential to better support student engagement and learning in fully online coursework; iii) to evaluate the impacts of these strategies on student learning outcomes through rigorous randomized controlled trials; (iv) to understand the student experience of learning within online environments through investigation of learning behaviors and the ways in which an intervention strategy may influence these behaviors; and (v) to evaluate which intervention strategies reduce performance gaps in online courses between learners from less and more disadvantaged backgrounds.