| NCAT’s Frequently Asked Questions
What does NCAT mean by course redesign?
- Course redesign is the process of redesigning whole courses (rather than individual classes or sections) to achieve better learning outcomes at a lower cost by taking advantage of the capabilities of information technology.
- Course redesign is not just about putting courses online. It is about rethinking the way we deliver instruction, especially large-enrollment core courses, in light of the possibilities that new technology offers.
Course redesign allows institutions to:
- Accommodate more students without adding resources.
- Free up faculty members to offer other courses and programs of study that are in demand.
- Increase student retention and meet goals for student achievement.
- Decrease time to graduation by adding additional seats in bottleneck courses.
- Improve consistency and quality across multiple sections.
- Use state and student tuition dollars more efficiently.
What results have been achieved with course redesign?
- The institutions in the original Program in Course Redesign embarked upon a systematic program to 1.) Understand the full instructional cost of delivering courses; 2.) Determine how information technology can be introduced as an instructional aid and labor-saving device; and 3.) Assess how well students are learning. The program produced five flexible yet distinct course redesign models that achieved both positive gains in student learning and reduced costs to the institution.
- Of the thirty institutions, twenty-five measured significant increases in student learning in the “redesigned” course when compared to the traditional course while the other five showed learning equivalent to traditional formats.
- Of the twenty-four institutions that measured student retention, eighteen showed significant increases in course completion.
- All thirty institutions were able to reduce instructional costs, on average by 37%, with a range of 20% to 77%.
- Through a grant from Lumina Foundation for Education, NCAT was also able to examine the data and determine that these redesign strategies, while effective for all students, have a positive impact on traditionally underserved students (minority students, low-income students, and adult students).
What happens to the cost savings?
- The elephant in the room of any course redesign project is what will happen to the cost savings that are achieved. Since buy-in at all levels of the organization is critical to a successful course redesign effort, NCAT encourages an early and frank discussion of the topic with all stakeholders.
- Institutional participants have used cost savings in the following ways:
- Left the savings in the department that achieved them for continuous improvement projects or for additional course redesigns.
- Provide a greater range of offerings at the second-year, upper-division or graduate levels.
- Accommodate greater numbers of students using the same amount of resources.
- Left the savings in the departments to reduce teaching load and/or provide greater time for research.
- Improve training of part-time faculty.
How does NCAT work?
- The NCAT course redesign methodology is implemented by a partnership among faculty, instructional designers, technology experts, administrators and publishers and other software vendors.
- NCAT assists this team during the initial program, helping to gain commitment and overcome roadblocks, teaching the course redesign methodology to the partners and helping adapt it to meet the particular goals of the organization. The organization benefits from NCAT’s cutting-edge research, resources (including partnerships with commercial providers of instructional software), lessons-learned and access to organizations that have already undertaken large-scale course redesign projects.
- NCAT’s goal is to help states and systems build capacity to undertake significant course redesign programs that provide substantial learning gains and cost savings quicker and more pervasively.
How do we get started?
For more detailed information about how your organization can work with NCAT, please contact Patricia Bartscherer at pbartscherer@theNCAT.org or (518) 695-5320.