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The Learning MarketSpace, July 2007

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.



  • Math Lectures: An Oxymoron?








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


One of the most enjoyable parts of our work at the National Center for Academic Transformation is that we learn new things all the time. There’s nothing like spending most of your time engaging institutions of higher education in changing the way they think about teaching and learning to produce new ways of thinking.

Based on eight years of experience in working with a large number of colleges and universities as they seek to improve student learning while reducing instructional costs, we have identified a number of “models" and “principles” to guide the redesign of large-enrollment courses. We have learned that each of our Five Models for Course Redesign can produce improved student learning and reduced instructional costs if it embodies our Five Principles of Successful Course Redesign. Therefore, as part of the application process to both our national and state redesign programs, we have heretofore asked teams to select a redesign model and explain how they will embody the Five Principles within it as the first step in the planning process.

We haven’t wanted to prescribe a model for several reasons. First, we want each redesign team to “own” their redesign plan by making their own choices as they go through the planning process. Second, we are really interested in seeing variations on previous redesigns in different disciplines. We’d love to see the Emporium Model in fields other than math—a writing emporium, a chemistry emporium—or the Buffet Model in fields other than statistics. (We’ve seen the latter happen at Chattanooga State Technical and Community College where the psychology redesign team evolved their way from a Replacement Model into a Buffet Model, and we think this can happen in many other disciplines as well.) Third, we are also interested in seeing new models emerge as we work with greater numbers of institutions and greater numbers of disciplines.

But we have also learned that certain models seem to be appropriate to certain disciplines. For example, all of the foreign language projects that we have worked with have chosen the Replacement Model in which they move grammar instruction, practice exercises, testing, writing, and small-group activities to the online environment and use in-class time for developing and practicing oral communication skills. The nature of the discipline informs the choice of model. The Replacement Model has also been the model of choice in English composition for similar reasons.

In mathematics, the Emporium Model has consistently produced spectacular gains in student learning and impressive reductions in instructional costs. The Universities of Alabama and Idaho, LSU, Ole Miss, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Virginia Tech and Wayne State have all replaced class meetings with a learning resource center that features student use of instructional software supported by on-demand personalized assistance. We more or less assumed that subsequent new projects in mathematics would want to emulate this success. Boy, were we wrong!

NCAT has now interacted with more than 50 institutions in their efforts to redesign introductory or developmental mathematics as part of formal course redesign programs. The majority of these institutions have initially chosen the Supplemental Model or the Replacement Model rather than the Emporium Model.

All of these institutions begin in more or less the same place. In the traditional format, the course meets three hours per week for 15 weeks and is taught in a didactic lecture format. Students often have access to a math help lab or tutoring center if they choose to take advantage of it. The course is taught by a combination of full-time faculty, temporary lecturers, adjunct faculty and graduate teaching assistants, depending on the institution. The department may choose textbooks or develop course outlines and content standards for the course, but typically there are no consistent efforts to ensure uniformity of content presentation or assessment across all sections. The result is unacceptably high failure rates and lack of student progress toward a degree.

Introductory math courses, including many that satisfy the general education requirements, are often problematic for several reasons. Many students are simply not interested in the subject. Others may lack adequate preparation. Still others may fear failure based on negative experiences in math classes in high school. The problem is magnified when course concepts, which students have already encountered in their high school coursework, are re-taught to them using the same instructional methods that did not work the first time.

Yet what do most institutions initially propose? Some propose to retain three hours of class per week supplemented by computer-based homework (the Supplemental Model). Others propose to replace one hour of class per week with one or two hours of lab work using instructional software while retaining two hours of class in the traditional format. All too often, this is what we hear: “Over the past year and a half, the math faculty have spent much time researching best practices in developmental math. They have examined such topics as assessment, reading in the math classroom, math tutoring labs, active learning strategies and technology. Results of this research were shared and, as a group, the faculty decided to maintain the current three hours of lecture and to supplement classroom instruction with lab time.” Didn’t Albert Einstein define insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

Does keeping lectures in a math course make sense? The opinion of all of the successful faculty project leaders who have redesigned math is unanimous: students do not learn math from going to lectures. The reason most success rates in math are so low, we believe, is because the three-lectures-per-week approach is simply not appropriate for introductory mathematics courses. Retaining two of the three lectures does not substantively change the model. Consequently, we do not believe that institutions taking this approach will be able to increase student learning.

Why Is the Emporium Model So Successful?

As the redesign team at Kingwood Community College in Texas has correctly observed, “The primary reason many students do not succeed in the [traditional math] course is that they do not actually do the problems. As a population, they generally do not spend enough time with the material, and this is why they fail at a very high rate.” This may seem obvious, but we can assure you that it is not.

The Emporium Model has been so successful for basically three reasons:

  • Students spend the bulk of their course time doing math problems.

By using an instructional software package such as MyMathLab, ALEKS or Hawkes Learning Systems, students are able to spend more time on task than when they simply watch or listen to a lecture given by someone else. Students find the software easy to use and achieve a comfort level with the technology in a short amount of time. Students especially like the instant feedback they receive when working problems and the guided solutions that are available when they do not get a correct answer. The software has been evolving and improving over the last five years, providing more reliable scoring and a better interface for students and instructors.

Attending lectures are a waste of student time and energy. The three hours spent listening to lectures are three hours that could be spent doing math. As one math professor has put it so well, "Students learn math by doing math, not by listening to someone talk about doing math."

  • Students spend more time on things they don’t understand and less time on things they have already mastered.

The traditional lecture format treats students as “one size fits all.” Some students are bored because other students’ questions result in repetition of conceptual material they have already mastered, while other students feel overwhelmed by the amount of material covered in one lecture session. In contrast, instructional software packages-- which include interactive tutorials, computational exercises, videos, practice exercises and online quizzes--can support auditory, visual and discovery-based learning styles.

Through diagnostic assessments for each student, areas of needed practice can be highlighted and individualized study plans developed. When a student understands the material, he or she can move quickly through it and demonstrate mastery. When a student gets stuck, he or she can ask for an example or a step-by-step explanation and take more time to practice.

  • Students get assistance when they encounter problems in doing math.

Traditional models increase the likelihood that students will get discouraged and stop doing the work because they must work without immediate support and admit before fellow students at the next class what they do not understand. Since most students would rather remain invisible than interact with the instructor in a public way, and will always protect themselves from embarrassment, they often do not resolve the questions they have. In addition, students typically turn in homework problems that are hand-graded and returned days after the students do the problems and make mistakes. By the time students see the graded homework, they are not sufficiently motivated to review their errors and correct the problem.

The Emporium Model provides help to students in a variety of ways. Students get help from the software’s online tutorials and guided solutions. Instant feedback lets students review their errors at the time they make them. Students also get help from fellow students. In several of the math emporia, computer stations are arranged in pods of four to six to encourage student collaboration. Students can also find help in the emporium where instructors, graduate teaching assistants and/or peer tutors are available to provide individual assistance when students encounter difficult concepts. Any problem areas that students encounter are addressed on an individual basis during lab time.

Overcoming the Most Common Objections to Using the Emporium Model

We find it hard to understand why faculty teams concerned about high failure rates in math would not embrace the Emporium Model. The logic of why it works seems impeccable.

Some of the objections are logistical:

  • We can’t afford to construct and equip an emporium. By redesigning the entire course using the Emporium Model, institutions have been able to produce substantial savings in annual operating costs, a portion of which can be re-directed to construct (which typically involves re-habbing existing space) and equip computer labs. Each of these universities produced the following annual savings by redesigning one course: LSU, $210,700; the University of Alabama, $60,000; Virginia Tech, $140,000; and Wayne State, $159,812. The University of Idaho produced an annual savings of $101,976 by redesigning three courses.
  • Our lab size limits our ability to use the Emporium Model. Some institutions say that their decision not to do an emporium stems from limits in the size of their lab. One applicant, for example, cites having only 85 workstations for 1500 students as an obstacle. The University of Idaho has been able to serve 2400+ students in a lab with 71 workstations in pods of four that are designed for as many as three students to work together at a single monitor. To accommodate this large number of students, the team has spread the load of student use more evenly by spreading assignment deadline dates across each day of the week. Thus 20% of students have deadline dates for assignments, tests and quizzes on Monday, 20% on Tuesday, and so on. The space is used more consistently, rather than just before a test or assignment is due, allowing more students to be accommodated in a smaller lab and reducing the lab downtime.

Other objections are a result of misunderstanding what the Emporium Model is. There is some tendency to confuse technology-enhanced learning such as online tutorials, homework, and quizzes with self-paced online courses in which students proceed at their own pace. We have all found that leaving students out on their own doing computer homework, without having some kind of face-to-face tutoring support available, is a recipe for disaster. Students need sufficient structure within a well-articulated set of specified requirements. A laissez faire, unstructured, open-entry/open exit model simply does not work.

For some faculty, getting rid of classroom meetings implies abandoning the human interaction side of a classroom and conjures up images of students working alone. Nothing could be further from what happens in a well-designed math emporium. As noted above, on-demand personalized assistance is a hallmark of the Emporium Model. At Virginia Tech, this assistance is available 24*7, and at most institutions using the Emporium Model, personal assistance is available far in excess of that offered by traditional formats.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, however, the decision to retain all or part of the lecture time stems from the reluctance of some or all of the faculty in the department to give up the traditional approach.

When this happens, we have several suggestions for those seeking to deal with faculty reluctance and move forward on a meaningful redesign.

  • Make lecture attendance optional for students. Several of our projects have done this as part of the transition from the traditional format to the fully redesigned format. The faculty will have the opportunity to see whether students want or need to go to lectures.
  • Offer different kinds of sections and compare the results. The idea here is to offer some sections with lectures and some sections without (or some with required lectures, some with optional lectures and some without) and then compare the learning results. In this way, disagreements among faculty can be settled based on empirical data.
  • Redesign what goes on in class. Keeping one class meeting per week and redesigning (rather than retaining) the activities that occur in that meeting is a successful strategy. Both the Universities of Alabama and Idaho have one weekly group meeting. Its purpose is to review past and future assignments, troubleshoot problems (technical or mathematical) that students are having with the course, and keep students on track to complete the course.

Of course, one of the best ways to overcome faculty resistance is to have a conversation with the faculty members who have led the effort to establish a math emporium on their campuses to learn more about what they did, how they did it and why they made particular choices. We especially recommend talking to or visiting the project leaders at LSU; the Universities of Alabama, Idaho and Missouri-St. Louis; Virginia Tech or Wayne State. Each has data to support the fact that students learn math by doing math, not by listening to someone talk about doing math. It’s really pretty simple, isn’t it?

--Carol A. Twigg


Featuring updates and announcements from the Center

Carol Twigg Honored with 2007 Virginia B. Smith Innovative Leadership Award

Carol Twigg has received the Virginia B. Smith Innovative Leadership Award for 2007. The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and innovation in American higher education.

Carol certainly qualifies. "Carol Twigg has shown that technology can not only improve the quality of student learning, but play a key role in tackling the rising cost of higher education," says Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. "Moreover, she has shattered the notion that these improvements cannot be made without spending more money."

The May/June 2007 issue of Change Magazine features an interview with Carol conducted by Virginia Smith and Joni Finney.

Established in 1999, the Innovative Leadership Award is named for Virginia B. Smith, a highly-regarded innovative thinker and leader in higher education. Throughout her career as an educator, foundation director, and public policy scholar, Smith has made immeasurable contributions towards advancing innovative strategies to improve opportunity and excellence in higher education. Smith is president emerita of Vassar College and was founding director of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. The award is jointly administered by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Congratulations, Carol!

Lumina Foundation for Education Announces New Initiative

On May 29, 2007, Carol Twigg joined 45 educational leaders at a dinner in Washington, DC, hosted by Lumina Foundation for Education, to review plans for an emerging national initiative, Making Opportunity Affordable: Reinvesting in College Access and Success. Through this initiative, Lumina seeks to help lower postsecondary education costs and serve more students without sacrificing quality. Organizations currently working with Lumina Foundation on Making Opportunity Affordable include Jobs for the Future, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, the Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs, and Communication Works.

At the dinner, a new survey reflecting public attitudes about higher education was previewed. Conducted by Public Agenda and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, the survey reveals widespread concern that the opportunity to go to college may not be available to all qualified students. Nearly two-thirds of parents of high school students – 64 percent – do not believe that rapidly escalating costs are leading to more learning on campus (33 percent strongly; 31 percent somewhat). Moreover, more than four in 10 (44 percent) believe that waste and mismanagement are a major factor in growing college costs, and over half say that colleges and universities could spend less money yet still maintain quality. “The public may voice satisfaction with the education that colleges and universities deliver, but there is evidence that this satisfaction with the system as a whole is beginning to erode.” says Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. “Our higher education system must take steps to address cost, access, and quality or face greater losses of public confidence.” The full report, “Squeeze Play: How Parents and the Public Look at Higher Education Today,” is available online at

For more information about the Making Opportunity Affordable Initiative, see

Isabella Hinds Joins NCAT as Program Coordinator

NCAT is pleased to welcome Isabella Hinds as a Program Coordinator for NCAT's Corporate Associates program and for the Redesign Alliance Annual Conference. Isabella will be NCAT’s liaison with our Corporate Associates, developing activities of mutual interest. Isabella will also work with Carol and Carolyn on the Redesign Alliance Annual Conference, coordinating speakers and other aspects of the program including the corporate suites and special events.

From 1999 to 2007, Isabella held several key roles in business development at WebCT, initially overseeing all aspects of the Content Program and subsequently adding responsibility for WebCT’s technology alliances. Following the acquisition of WebCT by Blackboard in 2006, she led the merged Content Program for Blackboard. Prior to joining WebCT, she was Vice President of Publisher Relations at the Copyright Clearance Center where she also oversaw CCC’s programs for academic institutions. Currently, Isabella offers consulting services in market development, with a focus on developing strategic alliances between institutions of higher education and technology and content vendors. A graduate of Harvard University, Isabella holds a master’s degree in American History from Brandeis University. She can be reached at Welcome, Isabella!

Kay Katzer Assumes New Responsibilities as Redesign Alliance Membership Coordinator

Many of you have already had the pleasure of working with Kay Katzer as the Program Coordinator for NCAT’s Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) program. Kay has agreed to expand her responsibilities to become the Membership Coordinator for the Redesign Alliance. Kay will be available to talk with interested institutions and companies who are seeking information about joining the Redesign Alliance. She is also available to answer questions from current members about their membership and to discuss new activities for the organization. We are pleased to have Kay on board to assume this responsibility. To learn more about becoming a member of the Redesign Alliance, see or contact Kay at

NCHEMS Surveys Academic Leaders about NCAT

In his role as the external evaluator for NCAT’s Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) program, Peter Ewell of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) recently conducted a four-question survey to identify academic leaders’ perceptions of NCAT and its work. The survey was emailed in April-May to 2824 presidents and chief academic officers and yielded a response rate of 21%.

More than 50% of the respondents indicated that they believe it is possible to improve academic quality while controlling costs at the same time. More than 50% had heard of NCAT, but only 27.5% were familiar with its work. More than 42% had either visited NCAT’s web site or knew others who had. When asked about actual experience with course redesign, almost 15% of respondents indicated that at least one department on their campus is engaged in course redesign using NCAT’s approach, and another 19% said that their institution was exploring the approach.


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

SUNY To Launch A New Statewide Initiative in Course Redesign

In fall 2007, NCAT will partner with The State University of New York (SUNY) to launch a new system-wide program in course redesign, which will run from 2007 through 2010 with the joint goals of increasing student learning and reducing instructional costs. SUNY is the largest comprehensive public higher education system in the U.S., with more than 417,500 students enrolled in 7,669 degree and certificate programs on 64 campuses across New York State. The SUNY Course Redesign Initiative will build on the successful models and lessons learned from NCAT’s Program in Course Redesign and Roadmap to Redesign. During the 2007-2008 academic year, the program expects to award 10 departmental grants of $40,000 each for activities over the three-year period of the initiative. Informational Workshops will be held in two locations on October 4 and 5 where SUNY faculty and administrators will learn about the program’s goals and requirements, as well as the process of course redesign. For more information, see or contact Patricia Pietropaolo, at

Arizona Board of Regents Selects Redesign Projects

The second workshop for Arizona’s Learner Centered Education Course Redesign Initiative was held on April 25, 2007, in Phoenix, AZ. Twenty-one teams from the three Arizona Board of Regents institutions participated in this workshop; 17 teams submitted final course redesign proposals on July 1, 2007. The proposals were extremely well done; each demonstrated creative and careful consideration of how to address the initiative’s goals to improve student learning while reducing instructional costs.

After following up with the teams to clarify aspects of their proposals, NCAT provided recommendations to Arizona Board of Regents staff and to the Learner Centered Education Advisory Council. Thirteen redesign projects were selected to be funded. Redesign projects at Arizona State University include courses in accounting, chemistry, college algebra, computer literacy, geology, organizational behavior and leadership, public speaking, and women and gender studies. At Northern Arizona University, teams will redesign introductory courses in biology and psychology. Teams at the University of Arizona will redesign introductory courses in biology, chemistry and geology. Abstracts of these projects will be available on the NCAT web site in early fall 2007. To learn more about the Arizona initiative, see or contact Maryn Boess at

Tennessee Board of Regents Institutions Submit Final Proposals to Redesign Developmental Education

As part of a major grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), NCAT is working with the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and its 19 institutions to increase the success of Tennessee students in developmental math and English while reducing the cost of providing developmental education. The number of students who take at least one developmental course in Tennessee is high, and many are not successful after their first enrollment. On July 15, 2007, the 19 TBR institutions submitted 27 proposals to redesign developmental courses in math, writing, reading and learning skills. A unique aspect of this program is its explicit focus on modularization. The development of better placement systems combined with shorter, more tailored remedial education modules will enable students to save time and money by only enrolling in the remedial and developmental modules that address their deficiencies. The proposals include a range of approaches to this issue with many promising ideas. NCAT will make recommendations to the TBR in early August, and grants will be awarded in mid-August. Abstracts of the funded proposals will be available on the NCAT web site in September. To learn more about the TBR initiative, see or contact Treva Berryman at

Update on Texas Developmental Education Redesign Initiative

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has several initiatives moving forward related to course redesign. One of these initiatives is entitled “Texas Technical Degree Program Course Redesign Project.” NCAT is partnering with the THECB to support institutions in their efforts to redesign pairs of high-risk courses. Pairs will consist of a developmental course and a subsequent college-level course that have become major exit points for students pursuing a technical degree. Four community colleges are involved: Austin Community College and Brookhaven College (Dallas Community College District) are redesigning developmental writing and English composition courses. Houston Community College and Kingwood Community College (North Harris Montgomery Community College District) are focused on changing the high failure rates in math. These four institutions are in the final stages of completing their plans and preparations for fall 2007 pilots. The teams have been hard at work and have selected various ways of linking developmental and college-level courses. The plans demonstrate a range of implementation approaches and course organization, which will provide multiple examples for other institutions in Texas and around the country. For more information about this initiative, contact Cynthia Ferrell at

University System of Maryland Redesign Projects Move Forward

Final proposals for the University System of Maryland’s Course Redesign Initiative (MCRI) were due on April 20, 2007. All 11 USM institutions submitted proposals. Six projects have been advised to go forward: Coppin State University: Elementary and Intermediate Algebra, Frostburg State University: Psychology, University of Maryland Baltimore: Context of Health Care Delivery, University of Maryland Baltimore County: Psychology, University of Maryland College Park: Social Psychology, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore: Chemistry. The other five proposed projects are in the process of clarifying or revising their plans. Abstracts of these projects will be available on the MCRI web site in fall 2007. To learn more about this system-wide initiative, see

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Considers Redesign

On June 6, 2007, Carol Twigg spoke to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) and teams from the 25 OSRHE member institutions about the opportunity to initiate a system-wide redesign effort. Two years ago, OSRHE sponsored a grant program entitled the “Brain Gain Grant,” which included an orientation to course redesign. As a result of that effort, NCAT worked with Connors State College to redesign developmental math. Building on these early efforts, OSRHE is considering a more extensive initiative in partnership with NCAT. For more information about how your state and system might initiate a program in course redesign, see or contact Carol Twigg at


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

Hold the Date: March 16-18, 2008

We are pleased to announce that the Second Annual Redesign Alliance Conference will be held on March 16-18, 2008 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida. Mark your calendars now and plan to attend! Building on the highly successful 2007 conference where more than 400 people shared their ideas about and experiences with course redesign, the 2008 conference promises to be even more engaging since more than 50 new course redesigns will have been launched by conference time. Whether you are new to course redesign or have substantial experience, plan to come to Orlando to interact with your colleagues. Program details and registration information will be available in early September on the NCAT web site.

Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) Round II

NCAT is pleased to announce the second round of the Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) program, sponsored by the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE). The purpose of the program is to support the efforts of colleges and universities to redesign their instructional approaches using technology to achieve improvements in student learning while reducing instructional costs. Redesign efforts supported by the program will focus on large introductory courses with high enrollments.

Participating institutions will implement a pilot redesign and will share their experiences and lessons learned with the larger higher education community at the Redesign Alliance Annual Conference. FIPSE funding will support team travel to the institutes and to the conference.

The deadline for applying to participate in the second round is January 15, 2008.

For more information and a copy of the Application Guidelines, see or contact Kay Katzer at

Round I C2R Teams Prepare for Fall Pilots

Final course redesign plans were submitted by the Round I C2R teams on June 1, 2007. Many of the campuses have already benefited from visits from the Redesign Scholars, and others plan Scholar visits in the fall. Campus teams are now in final stages of their preparations for piloting their redesigns in the fall.

The following institutions will be piloting their redesigns: Boise State University: Accounting, Cosumnes River College: Elementary Algebra, DePaul University: College Algebra, Hagerstown Community College: College Algebra, Harry S. Truman College: College Algebra, Houston Community College: Intermediate Algebra, Indiana State University: Psychology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Biology, Lorain County Community College: Chemistry, Saint Cloud State University: Chemistry, Truman State University: British Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Introductory Spanish, University of West Florida: Statistics, Winston Salem State University: Biology. The October issue of TheLearning MarketSpace will include brief summaries of each C2R project.

Results of the 2007 Redesign Alliance Survey

In order to be responsive to the needs and interests of Redesign Alliance members, NCAT recently sent an email survey suggesting several ideas for possible future events to all member contacts. Respondents indicated their interest in or reservations about the ideas as well as possible modifications of what we presented.

One of the most popular ideas was to hold a workshop linked to the Annual Conference for institutional teams planning to initiate a course redesign. This opportunity would bring together teams from member institutions to discuss their ideas and get feedback from those experienced in course redesign in order to improve their plans and get advice about any implementation issues they are facing. In addition to endorsing the idea, members provided a number of good suggestions about how to organize the workshop.

A second idea receiving a lot of support was organizing campus visits to successful redesign projects. Particularly in mathematics, much can be learned from touring lab facilities and talking with the various kinds of instructional personnel involved. Several member institutions indicated a willingness to be a host. The list of academic areas of interest from respondents was quite varied.

Several kinds of one-day meetings were also endorsed by the respondents. These short meetings, which would have a more limited attendance, might have a disciplinary or sector focus or be organized around one of the Alliance’s areas of work. These events would be designed to enable participants to develop a more in-depth understanding of course redesign and to acquire ideas to be used on their home campuses.

We are exploring opportunities for a late fall event. Look for more information coming soon. To learn more about the Redesign Alliance, see or contact Kay Katzer at


Linking content and software providers with leading edge institutions

NCAT Welcomes Blackboard as a New Corporate Associate

NCAT is pleased to announce that Blackboard has become our newest Corporate Associate. Celebrating its ten-year anniversary this year, Blackboard’s goal is to improve the educational experience for all through the linking of technology and people. The firm offers a wide range of products and services that provide multiple approaches to connectedness. Such products and services make it possible to scale good pedagogy for large numbers of students. This company started as an idea in the minds of a few people and has quickly grown into a thriving enterprise that makes a vital contribution to the learning of thousands of students.

Blackboard joins Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education and Thomson Higher Education in working with NCAT to ensure that educational institutions participating in cutting-edge course redesigns have knowledge of the best technology and best content that will help produce the best student learning outcomes. By strengthening the communication between those creating the technology and content and those using it, we can further our shared mission of improved learning at reduced costs.

To learn more about Blackboard, see or contact Afroze Mohammed at

How Does NCAT’s Corporate Associates Program Benefit NCAT’s Institutional Partners?

At NCAT, we believe that strong partnerships between educators, publishers and software developers will accelerate our goals of improving quality and reducing costs. The ready availability of high-quality, user-tested, affordable content and technology products provides valuable support to course redesign projects, allowing faculty to focus their time and resources on pedagogy and course organization. While NCAT does not endorse any particular products, we do emphasize the value of well-designed and developed learning resources to increase the opportunities for students to be successful.

NCAT Corporate Associates have committed significant resources to learning about the principles of course redesign and taking active steps to incorporate those principles in their product and services. Though the NCAT role always remains that of consultant and facilitator, Corporate Associates benefit from in-depth information on what worked and what didn’t in actual projects as well as a consistent emphasis on student outcomes and reduced costs in evaluating the effectiveness of their content and technology products.

For potential redesign projects, NCAT’s partnerships with its Corporate Associates provide one source of learning materials with some key advantages for project participants: maintenance and updates are the responsibility of a commercial organization; feedback and product requirements are provided within a common NCAT-centered framework; individual educator/vendor partnerships are governed by a common vision of what’s important and what needs to be achieved. Product improvements and new product development benefit from the fact that Corporate Associates are actively engaged in the challenges of redesign and equally excited when improvement in student outcomes and reductions in instructional costs can be demonstrated. Incorporating commercial organizations into course redesign projects can bring new resources, new talents, and new skills to the mix.

For more information about these relationships, contact Isabella Hinds at or visit

Houghton Mifflin Partners with Middlesex County College

Houghton Mifflin continues to partner with Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ in redesigning Elementary Algebra. According to Dr. Maria Deluca, chair of the mathematics department at Middlesex, “The math department is excited about designing and piloting a new format for teaching elementary algebra with help from the team at Houghton Mifflin. We believe that incorporating a lab component utilizing Eduspace will enable students’ unlimited practice with immediate feedback. We anticipate that this new model will help students develop a greater understanding of fundamental concepts, resulting in higher student retention.”

In fall 2007, the pilot will consist of 14 sections of Beginning Algebra taught using three different types of instruction modes: 1) three sections where students are in the classroom for two hours per week and in a computer lab two hours per week completing homework and quizzes in Eduspace; 2) four sections taught entirely in the classroom with students completing online homework outside of class; 3) seven sections taught in the classroom without a technology component serving as a control group.

Houghton Mifflin’s TeamUP/Faculty Programs Group, a full-time staff comprised of experienced college educators able to offer consulting, training and curriculum design services for online, hybrid and on-ground courses in all disciplines, is supporting the redesign. For more information, contact Melissa Zantello, Director of Faculty Programs, at

Pearson and NCAT Co-Sponsor a Fall Workshop Open to All

Pearson Education and NCAT are co-sponsoring a workshop on October 26 - 27, 2007, in Tucson, AZ. This workshop will highlight successful course redesigns that use technology to improve student learning while improving efficiency in large enrollment, introductory courses. The workshop will feature NCAT's research-based course redesign methodology that was developed in partnership with more than 50 diverse two- and four-year institutions. The workshop will also feature other innovative course redesign efforts that have led to increased student learning. Participants in this workshop will hear from faculty members who have implemented course redesigns to achieve measurable and significant gains in student success. They 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 leading technology products. To register or to learn more, go to


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

New Article on Training Emporium Instructional Assistants – A Must Read!

If your institution is offering courses in a math emporium or thinking about establishing one, this article by Chuck Hodges and Jennifer Brill will be a very important resource. The article describes the training program for instructional assistants in the Virginia Tech’s Math Emporium.  Entitled, "Developing a Training Program for Instructional Assistants within a Large-Scale Emporium-based Environment: A Nine-Year Evolution towards Systemic Change," it is available online at The full citation is Hodges, C.B. & Brill, J.M. (2007). Developing a Training Program for Instructional Assistants within a Large-Scale Emporium-based Environment: A Nine-Year Evolution Towards Systemic Change. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 19(1), 93-104.

If you are interested in other peer-reviewed articles on emporium matters, Chuck published another article last year on learner characteristics. The citation is Hodges, C.B. (2006). Skills necessary for learner success in an emporium-designed mathematics course. Journal of Research in Education 16(Fall), 69-80. Chuck can be contacted at

Chronicle Features Quizzing and the University of New Mexico

As reported in the June 8, 2007 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are engaged in an in-depth study of the impact of quizzing on student learning. According to the researchers, the purpose of quizzing is not to motivate students to pay attention and to study more. (If those things happen, the researchers say, they are nice side effects.) The real point is that quizzing, if done correctly, is a uniquely powerful method for implanting facts in students' memory. The research team is studying what has the most significant impact on learning—e.g., using a variety of combinations of question type and time lapse between initial learning of the information and assessment of the learning. Among the courses being studied is a redesigned introductory psychology course at the University of New Mexico taught by Gordon Hodge. Students demonstrated significantly greater learning as a result of this redesign, and the key factor was the inclusion of low-stakes online quizzes that were automatically graded. The Washington University researchers are expanding on the work done by Gordon and others to demonstrate clearly the power of this technique. To read more about the best ways to organize low-stakes quizzing based on the experience of NCAT projects, see To learn more about the Washington University project, contact Henry Roediger at or Gordon Hodge at

DeAnza College Increases Student Success in Developmental Math

During the last two years, the DeAnza College has been piloting a program in developmental math that pairs the EnableMath mastery-based homework system with use of the Noel-Levitz Retention Management System (RMS) with its College Student Inventory (CSI). The CSI is a motivational assessment and advising tool that identifies incoming students’ strengths, challenges, and receptivity to campus services. Annually, the College offers 175 40-student sections of pre-algebra, elementary algebra and intermediate algebra. During the first year of the program, about 20% of the total number of students enrolled in developmental math (~800 students) participated. The students in the program achieved a pass rate of 68% and an attrition rate of 12% compared to a pass rate of 57% and an attrition rate of 23% for students in the non-EnableMath sections. In addition, success rates were 21 to 27% higher for African-American, Latino and Filipino students. To learn more, contact Dan Klassen at or see


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