Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Best Practices for Teaching Equine Reproduction in an Online Learning Environment: A Delphi Study

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Best Practices for Teaching Equine Reproduction in an Online Learning Environment: A Delphi Study

Article excerpt


The purpose of this study was to describe the best practices for teaching equine reproduction in an online environment. A Delphi method was used to reach a three-round consensus of suggested best practices employed for teaching lecture- and laboratory-type topics, as well as recommended assessment techniques. The expert panel was formed by an exhaustive worldwide search for instructors currently teaching an online equine reproduction course. Consensus resulted in the following best practices for teaching equine reproduction lecturetype topics: assignments, multiple exams over the course of the semester, lectures that mirror the textbook in logical order, PowerPoint presentations with pictures, quizzes, summary notes, videos, and vocabulary lists. For laboratory-type topics, local area work experience was the sole best practice result. Best practices for student assessment were quizzes and vocabulary lists. Practitioner recommendations centered on assisting faculty in becoming stronger online instructors. Some recommendations included participating in professional development workshops, becoming involved in communities of practices, and exploring other disciplines' successful methods of online instruction. Research recommendations included repetitions of this study involving a larger participant population and a broadened examination of best practices for all laboratory-based animal science disciplines.


New technologies and methods are continually discovered and implemented in all areas of animal science; from new feed technologies to new products and practices related to livestock production and reproduction. One means of successfully sharing these innovations are through classes and seminars offered at colleges and universities. These classes are important to the advancement of the horse owner and breeder population's knowledge and creation of new ideas. There is a limitation, however, in that a large part of the population may not be able to access this new information based on geographical location or time availability. Regardless of the equine-based subject matter topic, information should be accessible for the benefit of every student.

Instructors worldwide recognized this need by shifting the learning paradigm from traditionally delivered courses to online instruction (Schmidt and Miller, 2005). As early as 1999, research in the animal science genre indicated an increase in popularity, and need, for computer-based educational programs as a means of educating students and the public (Barnes et al., 1999). However, concerns with courses that are traditionally offered as "lecture with laboratory" in a face-to-face format, such as is sometimes the case in animal science, arise when discussions turn to online delivery options. Quality of instruction, limitations on learning, and limitations with student interaction are just a few of the criticisms identified by faculty with teaching post-secondary science-based courses in an online environment (Miller, 2008). Miller identified and debunked six myths surrounding delivery of science-based online courses, thus leaving little excuse for the supposed obstacles.

Why should animal science faculty be concerned with making subject matter more widely available in an online environment? In 1998, there were more than one million horses reported in Texas, which represented 15% of all horses nationwide (Gibbs et al., 1998) and, as an effect of the 109th Congress' American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (2006), these numbers have increased greatly in the current decade (Durfee, 2009). People own horses for many purposes including recreational use, income, transportation, and pets (Endenburg, 2010). By making equine science information more available to the public, increased awareness and knowledge may be distributed to the growing population of equine owners, helping them make educated decisions about what is best for each horse. …

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