Policies & Practices Study

Macomb Community College campus photo

Lead Researcher:
Susan Bickerstaff

Collaborative researchers and partner institutions are examining how instructors can enhance teaching practices designed to improve students’ ability to manage their unique responsibilities as learners in online foundational STEM courses.

This study explores institutions’ strategic priorities and initiatives related to online learning and strengthening students’ self-directed learning skills, including professional learning resources and incentives available to faculty. Researchers will identify how ongoing equity initiatives can be leveraged to reduce opportunity gaps and improve equitable student outcomes in online introductory STEM courses.

Using interviews, focus groups, course observations, and a student survey, the study will also investigate:

  • How student and faculty define and understand self-directed learning skills
  • How course design features and instructional strategies can help improve students’ success in online courses
  • How faculty use technology to establish positive learning environments online, help students plan and manage tasks in online contexts, and strengthen students’ metacognitive strategies, such as for reflecting on their learning

Findings from this study will highlight the strategies faculty already use as well as barriers to applying those instructional strategies in online learning contexts. Findings also will inform the Collaborative’s subsequent research. For example, the study will provide foundational knowledge to aid development of the Collaborative’s instructional model and related guidance.