The Effect of Learners’ Sex and STEM/non-STEM Majors on Remote Learning: A National Study of Undergraduates in Qatar
Keywords:remote learning, student satisfaction, STEM, COVID-19 pandemic, learners’ sex, Qatar
The sudden and prolonged disruption to learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of traditional higher education and revealed the need for a rapid transformation. Lessons from the pandemic have made it clear that the future of higher education will rely heavily on e-learning and the agility of institutions to seamlessly transition between face-to-face, blended/hybrid, and fully online learning. As institutions begin their post-pandemic planning, the online experiences of different groups of learners during the pandemic offer valuable insight into what is working and what isn’t. Consequently, this study explored the effect of learners’ sex and discipline (STEM/non-STEM) on students’ perceptions of (1) course design, (2) assessment, (3) student behavior, (4) instructor behavior, and (5) tools and technologies during forced online learning. Additionally, the researchers investigated the effect of sex and discipline on students’ overall satisfaction with remote learning and explored the influence of students’ perceptions on satisfaction. Study participants were 1,825 undergraduates at eight universities in Qatar. Using the QLT evaluation rubric, the researchers adapted a 27-item survey to measure students’ perceptions of key aspects of quality online teaching and learning and to gauge overall satisfaction. Using a SEM approach, study results showed that (1) male students had more positive perceptions of instructor behavior, assessment, and tools and technologies compared to females, (2) males were more satisfied overall with their remote learning experiences, (3) students in STEM disciplines had significantly more negative perceptions of all the aspects of online learning explored in the study, (4) students in STEM disciplines were significantly less satisfied overall with remote learning, and (5) students’ perceptions of tools and technologies, assessment, and course design most influenced their overall satisfaction. These findings have important implications for faculty development and post-pandemic planning in higher education in general and the Gulf in particular.
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