We quantified student perceptions of an active learning exercise, based on open-educational video resources, in both a first-year seminar class (Natural Environment of Athens and Georgia, three sections), and a larger lecture class (Natural History of Georgia [FANR 1200, two sections), designed for nonscience majors. Evaluation of STEM pedagogical techniques over multiple classes and levels are uncommon. In general, the frequencies of students in different majors within classes did not differ. In all classes, except FANR 2015, students reported more positive than negative answers in Likertscale questionnaires, although even in the latter class 55% of students responded positively to doing scientific research. Students did not display a preference for different aspects of the exercise (four of five classes), and previous experience in science also did not affect positive responses to the questionnaire. In FANR 1200, year in school had a contradictory effect on positive responses. Triangulation interview trend analyses indicated that a high proportion of students (mean 65%, range 41–89%) stated the exercise was both new and represented deeper learning. These results confirm that active learning exercises may help recruit new students to STEM disciplines.