Hybrid course formats provide a means of incorporating an online component into courses requiring hands-on learning. In 2009 and 2010 an herbaceous plant identification course was taught in a hybrid format at Montana State University, with the only in-class component being a weekly lab. This was the first online learning experience for more than two-thirds of the students. In 2009, 81.8% of students preferred an in-class format to this hybrid format,
but in 2010 student preference for an in-class format dropped to 32.0%. While student attitudes towards the hybrid course improved between years, reasons for course format preference were constant. Most students who preferred a traditional in-class course disliked the reduced instructor contact of a hybrid course, while 76.5% of students who preferred a hybrid course favored the greater independence of this format. Preference for an in-class format was correlated with having previously taken the in-class woody plant identification course. Learning outcomes were not statistically different from when the course was taught in-class. This study demonstrates
the utility of the hybrid format for a plant identification course and how student attitudes towards online learning are affected by perceived learning skills, and previous online and in-class experiences.
hybrid course, traditional course, plant indentificaion, web-based instruction