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The Learning MarketSpace, April 2012

A quarterly electronic newsletter of the National Center for Academic Transformation highlighting ongoing examples of redesigned learning environments using technology and examining issues related to their development and implementation.











Offering perspectives on issues and developments at the nexus of higher education and information


Most Americans are familiar with the legal maxim, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” It means that if legal redress is available for someone who has suffered an injury but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all. This principle is the basis for the right to a speedy trial and similar rights, which are meant to expedite the legal system.

The applicability of that maxim to higher education suggests that education delayed is education denied, especially when it comes to community college students placed into developmental mathematics. Early results from NCAT’s Changing the Equation (CTE) program has shown us a way to make a significant dent in this problem--and to do so at a reduced cost to both institutions and students.

The Problem

Manchester Community College, a CTE participant, is one of the twelve community colleges in the Connecticut Community College system with an annual enrollment of 15,000 students.  Manchester, like all institutions in the Connecticut system, offers two developmental math courses, Pre-algebra and Elementary Algebra. Students are placed into the math sequence based on scores on the Accuplacer test. Fifty percent of newly enrolled students place into a developmental math course, and, of those, 17 percent place into Pre-algebra.  The college devotes one-third of its full- and part-time mathematics faculty workload to teaching developmental math courses to about 1,500 students per year.

Despite the resources devoted to developmental math education at MCC, pass rates and persistence of students have been, in the college’s words, “dismal.” Average pass rates in the developmental courses are lower than the 65 percent college average for all courses: 55 percent for Pre-algebra and 60 percent for Elementary Algebra. Furthermore, it will take a student who begins in Pre-algebra at minimum three or more terms to complete the sequence through Intermediate Algebra, the first college-level math course at MCC.  Data collected at the college over five years demonstrate that only 8 percent of students who began with Pre-algebra pass Intermediate Algebra.

These data are consistent with national studies. Nationally, nearly 60 percent of incoming community college students must take at least one developmental course, in math or English before enrolling in any credit-bearing classes toward a degree (Bailey 2009; Attewell et al. 2006.) Within developmental education, students are most likely to need help with mathematics. These data are based on the National Educational Longitudinal Study, which reports on the enrollment of traditional school-age students in developmental education courses. The actual percentage of students enrolled in developmental courses at community colleges is likely higher, given that community colleges enroll a large number of non-traditional students returning to college from the workforce.

The sheer number of students requiring developmental education in math or English incurs significant expense not only for the students who pay tuition but for states and the colleges as well. Although the precise costs of developmental education are unknown, estimates range from $1.2 to $2.3 billion annually for all community colleges and $500 million for public four-year colleges (Collins 2010.)

More than Just a Leaky Pipe

Higher education has grown familiar with the “pipeline” discussion, which describes how students are lost along the way from leaving high school to enrollment in college to graduation. But for students placed in developmental math, the leaks in the pipeline are cannot be fixed with the educational equivalent of plumber’s putty. These leaks are so catastrophic they require a whole new pipe.

A recent study published in the Economics of Education Review of institutions participating in Achieving the Dream, a national initiative to improve community college student success, reported that 59 percent of all community college students were referred to developmental math, with 19 percent of the students directed to courses three levels below college-level math.

Unfortunately, many students placed in developmental math choose to bypass those courses and associated services. Of those students referred to any developmental math course, 79 percent actually enrolled. Of those referred to three levels below college-level math, only 31 percent actually enrolled. So we lose a good number of students before they ever enroll in developmental math.

What happens to those who enroll? According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, students are more likely to fail developmental math than any other course in higher education. Of those students who enrolled in any developmental math course, only 33 percent completed the developmental math sequence.  Of those referred to three levels below college-level math, only 17 percent completed the developmental sequence.

It is the latter students—the ones furthest behind in math—who are least likely ever to advance into classes for college credit. Only 10 percent of this group made it past the developmental math sequence to complete even one college-level, credit-bearing course. Those who hit a roadblock in the lowest levels of developmental math are the most at risk for giving up on ever earning a postsecondary credential.

Students referred to a higher level of developmental math do not fare much better. Only 20 percent of those students who complete the developmental sequence go on to complete one or more credit-bearing college courses.

I am not a statistical whiz, but even I can appreciate how great the loss is. Let’s say your incoming freshman class has 1,000 students. Of those, 600 must take developmental math. Of those 600, only 474 actually enroll. Of those, 156 actually complete the sequence. And, of those, only 31 students complete at least one college-level math course. You lose 569 of 1,000 students every year, just because of the developmental math problem.

The Issue of Student Mobility

We need a better understanding of why students don’t move through the sequence. Part of the reason is, of course, that they do not pass the courses because they do not or cannot do the work. What we at NCAT have found, however, is that the problem is more complex than students’ inability to pass developmental math courses. A larger part of the problem may be how those courses are organized and the ways in which students move or do not move through them. We need to increase student mobility within the developmental math sequence, and that’s what the CTE institutions have been able to accomplish even at this early date.
In previous articles, we have provided evidence that the institutions involved in CTE are representative of community colleges across the U.S. (See the January 2011 issue of The Learning MarketSpace.) The majority (79 percent) of community colleges offer two developmental math courses (34 percent) or three developmental math courses (45 percent). The remaining 21 percent offer as many as four, five or even six courses.

In the traditional model, students who fail one developmental math course have to repeat the entire course before progressing on to the next course in the sequence, even if they have mastered a significant amount of material in their first term. This means that students at community colleges that offer a two-course sequence of developmental math may spend two, three or more terms in the sequence. Students at community colleges that offer a three-course sequence of developmental math may spend three, four or more terms in the sequence. This delay in moving toward enrollment in a college-level course often seems insurmountable to many students and surely contributes to overall institutional attrition rates.

A Whole New Pipe

In the redesigned course sequence at CTE institutions, all course content has been modularized and taught in the Emporium Model. In some cases, the original courses have been retained with modularized content; in other cases, multiple courses have been collapsed into one modularized course. Modularization and the Emporium Model have allowed students to move from one course to the next within the same term. Regardless of the format, all students in CTE projects can begin a second (or third) course within the same term as soon as they complete the necessary number of modules equivalent to the traditional course. Students begin a new course in the midst of a current term, complete as much of it as possible and continue on with the same course in the next term. This means that students can complete two or more levels of developmental math in one term. And it means that students who complete a course before the term is over can work on modules in a future course without paying tuition. Students are allowed to complete as many courses as possible in one term while only paying tuition for the one they registered for.

Students who complete one course and begin another within a single term retain that progress into the next term and begin where they left off. Students who do not complete the requisite number of modules by the end of the term are either given an F or an “in-progress” or “making progress” grade. Regardless of the grading system that is used, performance data for individual students migrate from one term to the subsequent term. Motivated students can complete their developmental math program in as little as one term, allowing them to achieve their educational goals sooner and at a lower cost. The ability to carry forward individual learning accomplishments to a subsequent term offers huge benefits for students, saving them both time and money.

Benefits to Students

  • Moving into college-level courses

    The time considerations to complete the entire developmental sequence are now tremendously reduced. By completing required math courses in fewer terms, students are able to enter into their courses of study earlier and reduce the amount of time they are in school. This puts students on track to complete their certificate or degree program on time, a significant motivating factor for students.
  • Saving tuition dollars

    Several of the CTE institutions have calculated how much tuition a student can actually save as a result of the redesigned sequence.

At Manchester Community College, the redesign allows a student to complete up to three courses in one quarter and pay for only one. If taken individually over three quarters, the courses would cost the student $1,095 compared with taking them all in one quarter at a cost of $421.25. This is a 61.5 percent savings to the student. Even if the student can only complete two of the courses in one quarter and finish the third in the next quarter, s/he would save 30.8 percent. 

Iowa Western Community College offers four levels of developmental math:  Basic Math, Pre-Algebra, Elementary Algebra I, and Elementary Algebra II to a total enrollment of 2464 students. For students who complete the developmental math sequence in one term, the tuition savings is $1,071 per student. For students who complete the sequence in two terms, the tuition savings is $714 per student.

Lurleen B. Wallace Community College students save tuition dollars since they are allowed to complete as many courses as possible in one term while only paying tuition for the one they registered for. In the traditional setting, students that began in the first developmental math course would typically not complete the sequence in less than three terms. In the redesign, a student who works through all modules can finish the entire program in one term and pay for one course instead of three courses, a tuition savings of $654.

  • Lowering the cost of course materials

Several of the projects have been able to lower the cost of materials significantly, creating additional savings for students. At Manchester Community College, students purchase one textbook and one software access code good for two years as opposed to the old system where students purchased three different textbooks to complete their developmental work. Guilford Technical Community College students also only need to purchase one book and one online code for all three developmental math courses. Washington State Community College has developed a customized textbook, which includes the material for all courses in the sequence. Students need to purchase only one textbook and one software access code. In the past, developmental courses at Washington State required two textbooks and two software access codes.

Other projects have entirely eliminated the need to purchase a textbook. SomersetCommunity College, Miami Dade College and Nashville State Community College, for example, require only the purchase of the access code, which includes an e-book (electronic textbook) at no additional cost to the student. Paper copies are still available if desired. At Iowa Western, the cost to purchase three textbooks to complete the traditional developmental math courses used to cost a student approximately $225. A two-term access code can now take a student through the entire sequence at the cost of $120.

  • Accommodating life events

Students in developmental math and in community colleges in general are juggling many responsibilities such as jobs, families, parents, etc.  As a result, they are often unable to complete a course during the term.  Many students may be working diligently to achieve their dreams but have a “life event” occur, prohibiting them from reaching their educational goals. When life interferes in the traditional model, students must withdraw, losing tuition and any progress they have made, and start over the following term.

In the CTE redesigns, students can adjust their schedules to suit life changes instead of having to withdraw from the course and lose the tuition they paid for the course. They can return to the class and pick up where they left off after resolving the life event. Students no longer have to drop the course when work or family obligations keep them from attending class. Students can change course sections instead of withdrawing and attend class at a different time, decreasing the number of terms needed to complete developmental math requirements.

  • Reducing scheduling roadblocks

Another problem faced by many community colleges is low-enrollment sections, particularly on smaller campuses and sites or during certain class times. Because these sections do not “fill,” they must frequently be cancelled, interrupting student progression through the sequence.

Several years ago, the math department at Cleveland State Community College created what they dubbed the “one-room schoolhouse” approach to low-enrollment classes. This means that the college offers multiple developmental math courses in the same computer classroom or lab at the same time, effectively offering all courses at any time. The one-room schoolhouse was enthusiastically adopted by many of the CTE participants. This strategy enables the institution to increase course offerings and avoid cancelling classes, which, in turn, reduces scheduling roadblocks for students and enables them to complete their degree requirements sooner.

Students can match their school schedules to their personal schedules more easily. Colleges can easily move students to a different course within the developmental sequence—i.e., students who encounter difficulty in one course can be moved to a lower course without changing their schedule. Not only does the one-room schoolhouse create institutional cost savings, but students have greater opportunity to schedule courses on demand. The availability of all courses all the time means that students do not have to delay their progression and can improve overall completion opportunities.


Let’s return to our incoming freshman class of 1,000 students and the 600 that must take developmental math. Perhaps the reason that only 474 actually enroll is because they don’t want to face two, three or more terms of a subject that they both dislike and have done poorly in. If we can move all students more quickly through the sequence, we may be able to get close to enrolling all 600. Chances are that we can help the 318 students who never make it out of the sequence do so by saving them both time and money as outlined above. And because the Emporium Model significantly increases how much students learn, they will be better prepared to succeed in college-level math.

In the traditional approach to developmental math, students are locked into a system of courses where the educational equivalent of a “speedy trial” is impossible to obtain.  Students have to re-start at the beginning of a course whenever they encounter an academic or personal speed bump, even though they may have already completed a significant portion of the course. This means that delay is a built-in feature of the system. By redesigning developmental math using NCAT principles and the Emporium Model, colleges can take a big step toward ending the practice of education delayed is education denied.

--Carol A. Twigg


Featuring updates and announcements from the Center.

Three Course Redesign Projects Are Selected in Australian Course Redesign Initiative

Teams from James Cook University (JCU) and the Australian Catholic University (ACU) submitted final proposals on February 8, 2012, as part of the Australian Course Redesign Initiative sponsored by the L.H. Martin Institute and the Australian Teaching and Learning Council. These two institutions are part of a pilot program to test the applicability of NCAT’s redesign principles in Australia. Three projects have been selected as finalists in the program.

JCU will redesign two courses. The first, Education for Cultural Diversity, aims to prepare students with the knowledge of theories, policies, frameworks and teaching strategies to address cultural diversity as future teachers and involves confronting their understandings of their own culture and the culture of “others.” This subject is vital to the strategic aims of the university in serving underserved populations and is a necessity for teachers who are entering increasingly economically and culturally diverse schools. Offered at four locations, the redesign will use the Replacement Model to restructure the way the subject is delivered with a focus on active learning. With the exception of an orientating and culminating lecture, a two-hour weekly lecture will be replaced with online activities and resources. A weekly small-group tutorial will be retained but will have more of a focus on applied learning through the use of authentic scenarios of cultural diversity in schools.  JCU will reduce costs by having full-time faculty serve more students, eliminating one casual staff member who will no longer be needed to teach the course. The cost-per-student will be reduced from $213 to $174, an 18% savings.

The second, Financial Management, faces three academic problems: student engagement, failure rates and course consistency and coordination. A variety of formats are currently employed including online individual learning as well as face-to-face contact in lectures and tutorial settings, yet these may only benefit some students as they are likely to address only a limited range of learning styles, contributing to a 30% failure rate. The planned redesign will improve the quality of student learning by providing a “buffet” of learning activities and improve the quality of teaching by collaboratively developing resources aligned to learning styles. Specific resources will be designed and developed to support different learning styles such as active/reflective, sensing/intuitive, visual/verbal and global/sequential in the form of a suite of traditional and technology-based solutions. A set of student activities such as determining learning preferences and selecting appropriate learning activities will also be developed, which will contribute to self-monitoring as an opportunity for reflection, a life-long learning skill.  This project will reduce costs by serving more students (N=190) primarily at  ACU’s Singapore campus on the same resource base by increasing section size from 77 to 150. The cost-per-student will decrease from $285 to $218, a 24% reduction.

ACU will redesign a nursing course, Realising Professional Practice, offered across five campuses in the final semester of the Bachelor of Nursing program. Presently delivered face-to-face by five independent teaching teams, the course serves to facilitate the transition to professional practice for students, connecting nursing theory with nursing practice. Students have indicated that they are looking for flexible delivery options so they can undertake their study at a time and place that meets their individual requirements. As student numbers continue to grow, resourcing this unit is proving increasingly problematic, particularly on the smaller campuses where there are fewer teaching staff. The redesigned unit will reduce face-to-face lectures from 24 hours to six hours, replacing lecture time with self-directed individual learning activities. Face-to-face tutorial sessions for groups of 25 to 30 students will be replaced by scaffolded and facilitated online group work activities that teams of students will be able to complete at their own pace. The redesigned unit will be delivered centrally, with the same resources used across each of the campuses, and with members of the teaching team carrying up to 50 students for each online tutorial session. The focus of the teaching role will shift from one of content delivery to one of learning facilitation. ACU’s cost reduction strategy is to reduce the number of sections from 26 to 20, increase section size from 25 to 50 and reduce the number of personnel with an increase in student enrollment of 132 students. The cost-per-student will be reduced from $182 to $141, a 23% reduction. In 2013, ACU anticipates a further increase in student numbers and will run 25 sections of 50 students each, the larger section size, which will produce additional savings.

We at NCAT look forward to further work with our Australian colleagues!

To learn more about this initiative, see or contact Peter Bentley at

Higher Education Transformation Should Start in the Classroom

A recent article by Lawrence Butler in the New England Journal of Higher Education entitled, “When the Elephant Is the Room,” makes the important but often missed point that the classroom is where we should seek the transformation we need in higher education. After citing familiar statistics such as the decline in college completion rates and the fact that only 57% of entering freshmen earn a bachelor’s degree after six years, the author argues that it is time to look at what occurs in the classroom rather than around it.  “Numerous causes have been cited for this state of affairs from poor high school preparation to inadequate governmental financial aid policies to postsecondary grade inflation,” he states. “The most recent culprit du jour is student retention, and any number of retention-enhancement strategies have been proposed and implemented with varying degrees of success. Ironically, the one area that seems to have received the least attention from policymakers and institutional leaders is the very centerpiece of the educational enterprise—the actual delivery of educational content. Is it possible that the very process of teaching and learning has become the elephant in the room? Or, to put it more accurately, the elephant is the room itself: the classroom.”

He continues, “Although online learning with its powerful capacity to deliver curricular content is often seen as the very embodiment of the IT-powered educational paradigm, it is really only the virtual part beyond the physical classroom. Think of it as merely the trunk of our metaphorical pachyderm. The bulk of the elephant is the classroom or more precisely the learning lab with students seated at computers working through interactive course materials, homework exercises, and tests with real instructors at the ready to assist as needed.”

Butler goes on to comment, “One of the most compelling stories of how integrating technology in this way can yield significant benefits in terms of enhanced learning outcomes (and reduced costs) is told by the National Center for Academic Transformation in recounting its work in the field of Course Redesign.” Butler summarizes the successes that institutions have experienced using NCAT principles in course redesign and says that they should be a vital part of an institution’s strategy to “reverse the dismal trends in higher education.” To read the entire article, see


Engaging community colleges in a successful redesign of their developmental math sequences.

Changing the Equation Institutions Report on Full Implementation of Their Redesigns

The community colleges participating in Changing the Equation completed the first term of their fully implemented developmental math redesigns using modularization and the Emporium Model. Two final workshops are being held for this program where institutions present their final reports, including an analysis of comparative learning outcome data, course completion data and cost reduction data. The first occurred on March 29, 2012 in Dallas, TX, with approximately two-thirds of the participating institutions. The second will occur on August 8, 2012, in Baltimore, MD for the one-third of the institutions who elected to collect one additional term (spring 2012) of data prior to preparing their final reports. NCAT will work with the institutions throughout the summer to help analyze the outcomes of the projects, which is turning out to be more complicated than we originally thought. The final results for the full program will be available on the NCAT website in fall 2012. To learn more about Changing the Equation, see

Changing the Equation Projects Cite Value of NCAT Resources

In their final reports, all CTE projects commented on the value of the resources NCAT provided to support them in planning and carrying out their redesigns. Comments addressed the NCAT Redesign Scholars, the NCAT staff, the NCAT website and the workshops that were held throughout the project. Here are some examples of the thoughts and observations of the CTEteams.

The most frequently cited valuable resource was the support offered to the teams by the NCAT Redesign Scholars. According to the team at the College of Central Florida, the Scholars were “encouraging, inspiring and extremely helpful with the details of the redesign.” Nashville State Community College (NSCC) concurred: “The NCAT Scholars were indispensable during the initial proposal development phase. Faculty relied on Scholars’ advice regarding how redesign worked at his/her institution versus what needed to change based on NSCC’s infrastructure and student population.”  Cecil College agreed: “The NCAT scholar was very helpful in rallying the Cecil community in favor of the redesign.  Having her visit our campus helped stave off the naysayers, detractors and skeptics.   She was able to rally support for the Emporium model.”

The College of Central Florida and Nashville State Community College also joined other CTE teams in addressing the importance of visiting other institutions to see the Emporium Model in action.  Robeson Community College observed, “A four-person team visited Chattanooga State Community College and Cleveland State Community College. The team was able to observe a successful developmental math redesign project and was able to talk to students regarding their redesign experiences. NCAT Scholars at both campuses provided the team with valuable information related to organizing and implementing the Emporium Model of instruction.” Hazard Community and Technical College agreed: “We were able to send a contingency to Cleveland State to observe, first-hand, the operation of a successful redesigned math program and were able to copy many of the processes that were followed there while creating the redesigned classes at Hazard CTC.”

NCAT resources and staff were also considered valuable to the overall redesign experience. As the team from Volunteer State Community College indicated, “The NCAT Readiness Criteria is a challenging tool for preparing a team and an institution in considering the complexities of the undertaking. These resources provided the focus and depth essential to the exercise and crucial to implementation.” Oakton Community College agreed: “The NCAT website provided a significantly rich array of resources associated with redesign strategies and results of the CTE and other redesign programs.  They represent programs that attempt to pursue redesign in a wide variety of subject matters utilizing technology in intelligent manners.”  In addition, the team at Northwest-Shoals Community College cited the project workshops: “The NCAT workshops allowed the college to interact with other institutions that faced the same challenges. This gave a sense of community among the colleges so that no one felt the sting of isolation throughout the process.” Iowa Western Community College concurred: “The NCAT initial workshop was very helpful for IWCC math instructors. During the workshop, helpful, informative information was provided concerning course redesign. Concrete examples were given of other colleges using this model successfully. The Emporium Model was clearly explained. Follow-up workshops were also important. These provided an opportunity for instructors to network with other instructors going through the same process.”

To learn more about NCAT resources that support mathematics redesign including a list of the NCAT Math Redesign Scholars, see

Hae Okimoto's Dissertation Focuses on Leeward Community College

The University of Hawaii System has long recognized the potential of course redesign for their member institutions and was the first system to partner with NCAT on a state-wide redesign project. From 2004–2008, NCAT worked with University of Hawaii’s David Lassner, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, and Hae Okimoto, Director of Academic Technologies, on a system-wide redesign project in Hawaii. One important result of those early efforts has been the involvement of Leeward Community College in the Changing the Equation program.

As the team at Leeward worked on their redesign of developmental mathematics on their campus, Hae was able to collect data to expand her academic credentials and contribute to the nation’s overall understanding of  the impact of the Emporium Model on developmental math education.  In April 2012, Hae completed her Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  Her dissertation, “Community College Developmental Math Redesign and Its Effects on Student Outcomes,” focused on three questions:  1) Did students in the redesign pass at a different rate in each of the two redesigned courses than students in the traditional courses? 2) Did students in the redesign continue in the redesign sequence at a different rate than those in the traditional courses? 3) Did students in the redesigned sequence enroll in 100-level math at a different rate than those who went through the traditional sequence? Hae found that the answer to all three questions was “yes,” using regression discontinuity as the design (using math placement tests and their cut scores to assign students in the classes.)

Hae also used Tinto’s Model of Student Integration (academic and social integration) as the framing theory. One interesting finding was that using the Emporium Model provided a classroom structure that created an environment for student social interaction, creating a bond that encouraged students to persist. This suggests that this interaction can be achieved without student personnel types of activities, which is especially important for community colleges students since these students are less oriented to “student activities” due to their life demands and situations. To learn more about Hae’s research, contact her at Congratulations, Hae!


Featuring initiatives to scale course redesign through state- and system-wide redesign programs.

Post-Pilot Workshop Scheduled in Missouri

States and systems that partner with NCAT in a course redesign program ask participating institutions to conduct a pilot of their redesign plans. One of our goals in partnering with states and systems is to develop capacity in course redesign within those states and systems. As part of that effort, we bring redesign project teams together after the campus pilots have been completed in a one-day, face-to-face workshop that provides a forum for teams to share their experiences and learn from one another. Teams from all participating institutions share their initial findings regarding learning and retention outcomes, cost containment and implementation issues. Teams receive feedback from the group as well as from NCAT and system staff.

On June 20, 2012, the redesign teams from the Missouri Course Redesign Initiative will gather in Columbia, MO, to provide updates after their pilot terms and discuss the successes and challenges they have encountered thus far. Participating institutions along with the course(s) they are redesigning are: Lincoln University: Basic English; Missouri Southern State University: Oral Communication; Missouri State University: Psychology; Missouri University of Science and Technology: Chemistry I; Missouri Western State University: Introduction to Business; Northwest Missouri State University: Principles of Management; Southeast Missouri State University: College Algebra and Spanish I; Truman State University: Health and Fitness; University of Central Missouri: Human Anatomy and Intermediate Algebra; University of Missouri-Kansas City: College Algebra; and University of Missouri-St. Louis: Information Systems.

The pilots are progressing well as illustrated from a few anecdotal observations from project leaders.

Members of the psychology redesign project team at Missouri State University reported, “I have never worked so hard on a course before, but the great thing is that I think the students are now working hard too! They are reading before class, taking online practice exams, participating in class discussions and asking informed, thoughtful questions. The entire experience is qualitatively different and so much better!”  “I have found that all students are more engaged in the class and seem to know the chapter material before class begins, something that is almost unheard of in the rest of my classes. The students really appreciate the emails we send out regularly and the fast response time we have as a group because it makes them feel like there is someone out there that really cares whether they pass or fail. It is truly amazing to see students enjoy class and be a part of making that structure work so well.” “It has been amazing to watch what started as a conversation a year and a half ago become a reality. As a faculty team, we feel confident that we have created a course that will meet our goal of improving student learning outcomes. I have been so impressed by the dedication of all those involved and the commitment to making a difference in the education of our students. This process has been a time-consuming one, but we are thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow in such a collaborative way.”

The project leader of the Health and Fitness redesign at Truman State University commented, “I just returned from a meeting with our student activity instructors. We meet with them each Monday night to review how their courses are going, give them teaching tips, etc. Tonight, one of our student instructors said: ‘I am really enjoying teaching because it is giving me the chance to put my class work into practice. Students send me their fitness-related questions, and then I post my responses. This requires me to go back through my courses, cross-reference things from my textbooks and provide them with links to additional reading. I'm learning my material all over again but at a much better level.’ This speaks to an unanticipated outcome of using peer instruction:  the deeply engaging experience to be had by those students doing the instructing. This process is working very well for us, and we already have over 30 students interested in peer teaching next fall.”

To learn more about the Missouri Redesign Initiative, see or contact Chris Weisbrook at


Providing assestance to the higher education community as they engage in course redesign.

Steve Acker Joins NCAT Redesign Scholars

Joining over 50 NCAT Redesign Scholars, a tremendous pool of expertise in course redesign, is Steve Acker from The Ohio State University (OSU). Steve is Emeritus Professor at OSU, where he was a member of the faculties of The School of Communication and the Department of Design. Steve served as a member of the team at Ohio State that developed the “statistics buffet” course redesign as part of NCAT’s Program in Course Redesign. At Ohio State, he was the founding director of Technology-Enhanced Learning and Research, an institutional level initiative in the Office of the CIO charged with evaluating the use and introduction of instructional technologies. Steve currently serves as Research Director of the Ohio Digital Bookshelf for OhioLINK, the state library consortium of 90 higher education libraries, and The Ohio Board of Regents, the coordinating board for the public Higher Education institutions in Ohio. Digital Bookshelf projects evaluate the introduction of digital learning materials and new learning and teaching strategies to determine whether learning outcomes can improve even as instructional costs are reduced. Steve has worked with high schools, community colleges, four-year liberal arts schools and research universities. Welcome, Steve!

How To Apply To Become a Redesign Scholar

Are you interested in becoming an NCAT Redesign Scholar? Redesign Scholars include both faculty members and academic administrators who are experienced and knowledgeable about how to implement a large-scale, whole-course redesign that improves student learning outcomes while reducing instructional costs. Only exemplars in course redesign are selected to be Redesign Scholars. If you meet these criteria, we welcome your application.

Successful applicants will have the following experience and skills: experience as a faculty member or academic administrator at a two- or four-year college; successful implementation of a course redesign showing improved learning and reduced cost; experience and/or familiarity with NCAT’s course redesign programs; excellent communication skills; ability to mentor novice institutions; ability to work in a virtual environment, and, ability to travel.

A list of the current Redesign Scholars is available at  A full description of the responsibilities of a Redesign Scholar can be found at Instructions for how to apply are at

Changing the Equation To Produce A Host of New Scholars

When NCAT’s Changing the Equation programconcludes in August 2012, we expect to add a number of Redesign Scholars from community colleges that have successfully increased student learning and reduced instructional costs using the Emporium Model in a modularized developmental math curriculum. These new Redesign Scholars will be available to provide assistance to other institutions that seek to model their success and achieve the same results. We plan to announce our new Redesign Scholars in the October 2012 issue of The Learning MarketSpace.


Featuring updates from the Alliance, a member organization of institutions, organizations and companies committed to and experienced with large-scale course redesign.

Getting Started Seminar Draws A Crowd

On February 3, 2012, an NCAT seminar, Getting Started on Course Redesign, attracted a full-house of 80 interested participants from across the United States. Co-sponsored by the Redesign Alliance and the University System of Maryland, the seminar featured NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon and Redesign Scholars Eileen O’Brien from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Karen Wyrick from Cleveland State Community College. Carolyn provided an overview of course redesign, and Eileen and Karen offered case studies of course redesign implementations in general psychology and developmental math respectively. Participants also discussed how to overcome potential obstacles and challenges that campuses face in launching a course redesign. Presenters’ slides from the February seminar are available at linked to the presenter’s name on the agenda.   

Math Redesign Workshops Attract U.S. and International Attendees

NCAT has recently offered a series of workshops focused on developmental and college-level mathematics.  Each workshop began with an overview by NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon of what NCAT has learned about what works best in redesigning mathematics. Many institutions face the problem of growing numbers of low student success rates in both developmental and college-level math courses. NCAT has 12 years of experience in conducting large-scale course redesign programs that improve learning while reducing costs. Math redesigns at NCAT partner institutions (both two-year and four-year) have

  • increased the percentage of students successfully completing a developmental math course by 51% on average (ranging from 10% to 135%), while reducing the cost of instruction by 30% on average (ranging from 12% to 52%), and
  • increased the percentage of students successfully completing a college-level math course by 25% on average (ranging from 7% to 63%), while reducing the cost of instruction by 37% on average (ranging from 15% to 77%)

The pedagogical techniques leading to greater student success are equally applicable to both developmental and college-level mathematics. The underlying principle is simple: Students learn math by doing math, not by listening to someone talk about doing math. Interactive computer software combined with personalized, on-demand assistance and mandatory student participation are the key elements of success. NCAT calls this model for success, the Emporium Model, named after what the model’s originator, Virginia Tech, called its initial course redesign.

Following Carolyn’s opening presentation, representatives of two- and four-year institutions shared specifics about their particular redesigns, including the problem they were trying to solve, the changes they made in the content and structure of the traditional course and the results they have achieved. The workshop on February 24, 2012, held at the University of Central Florida (UCF) had more than 50 attendees and featured Redesign Scholars Betty Frost from Jackson State Community College and Tammy Muhs from UCF. A tour of the UCF mathematics lab was also part of the workshop. With over 60 participants, the second workshop was held in Dallas on March 29, 2012, featured Redesign Scholars Jamie Glass from the University of Alabama and Karen Wyrick from Cleveland State Community College, who shared their experiences working with students at both their home campuses and with faculty and staff at other institutions. The third workshop on April 20, 2012 was held at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (USML). It was filled to capacity with 80 attendees and featured Redesign Scholars Shahla Peterman and Teresa Thiel from USML and Crystal Ingle from Northwest-Shoals Community College. A tour of the UMSL math learning lab was also included. Each event featured exhibits by corporate members of the Redesign Alliance who offer products and services that can be used in redesigning college-level and developmental math.  Attendees came from as near as local college campuses in Orlando, Dallas and St. Louis and as far as Bermuda, Saudi Arabia and Australia. To view the presentation slides from these workshops, go to the NCAT home page and follow the links under the “What’s New?” section.

Pearson To Hold September Course Redesign Conference

Pearson Education, an NCAT Corporate Strategic Partner, will hold its Ninth Annual Course Redesign Conference on September 28-29, 2012, at the recently renovated Hyatt Regency in New Orleans. Participants will learn how to get started on course redesign from NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon and from large- and small-group interaction with experienced educators in accounting, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, developmental reading and writing, economics, engineering, English composition, IT, math, psychology, student success and world languages. The workshop will highlight successful course redesigns that take advantage of technology to improve student learning and efficiency in large-enrollment, introductory courses. Participants will learn how to implement course redesign principles in both quantitative and qualitative disciplines. Faculty will also have the opportunity to learn more about Pearson's technology products, including the MyLabs and MasteringScience. Online registration is open here or contact Karen Mullane at If you would like to view examples of how institutions have used MyLab or Mastering products in redesigned courses, send an email to to obtain a login and password.


Reporting on initiatives that share the Center's goals and objectives.

Middlesex Community College Redesigns Developmental Mathematics

Middlesex Community College (MCC) in Massachusetts has redesigned its developmental mathematics programs enrolling about 3,300 students annually based on NCAT principles, and the pilot results are gratifying. MCC applied to the Changing the Equation program, participated in the orientation workshop, submitted responses to the Readiness Criteria and attended the first planning workshop but never submitted a final application. Because the college was unable to meet the program’s implementation timeline, they decided carry out their redesign plan on their own without ongoing consultation with NCAT. MCC has modularized their three developmental math courses and redesigned them using the Emporium Model. MCC calls their project the Ramp-Up Math Initiative (Review, Achieve, Master, Progress), emphasizing key principles for successful developmental math redesign.  Students are required to spend three hours in a computer classroom working on math plus an additional hour in a math lab. Students are expected to complete at least four of 12 modules in a semester. If they do not complete four modules, they can pick up where they left off when the next semester begins rather than start over. If motivated, a student can complete all required modules in one term. So far, MCC is pleased with the outcomes. Overall success rates (final grades of C or better) have increased from 51% in fall 2009 to 68% in fall 2011, and the team believes that more improvement will occur as all students understand that RAMP is the way that math is learned at MCC.  MCC also increased class size from 22 to 30 and added a peer tutor to work with each instructor to answer student questions. MCC’s success illustrates the fact that once institutions have developed an understanding of the key principles of effective course redesign, they can move forward to redesign a key course on their campus without necessarily needing ongoing consultation with NCAT. To learn more about this redesign, contact Michael Badolato at

Complete College America Issues Two Important Reports on Higher Education Completion

Two recent reports from Complete College America provide significant food for thought. The first, Time is the Enemy of Graduation, addresses the phenomenon that as students mature, marry, and have families, there is less time to devote to school, which causes fewer and fewer to graduate.  “Four of every 10 public college students are able to attend only part-time. . . . Seventy-five percent of today’s students are juggling some combination of families, jobs, and school while commuting to class. . . . According to the U.S. Department of Education, only a quarter go full-time, attend residential colleges and have most of their bills paid by their parents.” Even when part-time students are given twice the time to complete, few do. While those institutions serving part-time students are well aware of the problem, the report notes that “leaders have been making policy decisions about higher education absent critical information about 40 percent of the students, as if their success or failure was less important than that of ‘traditional’ full-time students.” The data supporting these conclusions and the impact on the U.S. economy and society are part of this useful document. To read the entire report, see

A second, related report entitled, Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere, discusses the impact of remediation on college completion. “This broken remedial bridge is travelled by some 1.7 million beginning students each year, most of whom will not reach their destination—graduation. It is estimated that states and students spent more than $3 billion on remedial courses last year with very little student success to show for it.”  The discussion of students’ lack of college readiness is not new, but the statistics about the impact on college completion rates are shocking. Graduation rates for students who started in remediation are deplorable: less than 1 in 10 graduate from community colleges within three years and little more than a third complete bachelor’s degrees in six years.” To read the entire report, see

Established in 2009, Complete College America is a national nonprofit with a single mission: to work with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations. To learn more, see

Lumina Foundation Sees Small Gain in Degree Completion

A March 2012 report from Lumina Foundation for Education cites small gains in college attainment but says we still have a long way to go. According to the report, Stronger Nation Through Higher Education, “38.3 percent of working-age Americans (ages 25-64) held a two- or four-year college degree in 2010. That rate is up modestly from 2009, when the rate was 38.1 percent and 2008, when the rate was 37.9 percent.” Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of Lumina, notes, “America is grappling with how to grow jobs, skills and opportunity, and this report highlights the economic imperative of getting a postsecondary degree. . . . Education is the only route to economic prosperity for both individuals and the nation. That should matter to policymakers. It should matter to business leaders. And it certainly should matter to our education leaders.” To read the entire report, see


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