The Learning MarketSpace, July 2009
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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Featuring updates and announcements from the Center.
On January 30, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the creation of a White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families to be chaired by Vice President Joe Biden. The Task Force is a major initiative targeted at raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America. It is comprised of top-level administration policy makers. In addition to regular meetings, it will conduct outreach sessions with representatives of labor, business and the advocacy communities. Recently the task force issued a staff report entitled, “Financing the Dream: Securing College Affordability for the Middle Class,” which focuses on the challenges of paying for college in America today. The report briefly outlines the problem before turning to potential solutions. They focus only “briefly” on the challenges facing families because “this problem is well understood: the growth of college tuition is far outpacing that of family income.” The report asks, “What steps can schools take to increase their productivity or lower their operating costs?” While acknowledging that the question of how schools could boost their efficiency and thus hold down costs is “a difficult one,” the report goes on to say, “Nevertheless, numerous ideas have surfaced in this regard, and many have been successfully applied.” Among the examples cited is NCAT’s work: “A related strategy for reducing educational costs is to incorporate technology into instruction. The National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) suggests a variety of ways to employ information technology (IT) in ways that enhance learning while saving money.” To read the entire report, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/staff_report_college_affordability1.pdf.
In May 2009, the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) awarded its most prestigious Platinum Award to the University of Alabama for its Math Technology Learning Center ( MTLC). IMS GLC, an international consortium of higher education institutions and companies, creates standards for the development and adoption of technologies that enable high-quality, accessible and affordable learning experiences. Launched in 2001 as part of NCAT’s Program in Course Redesign, the MTLC uses Pearson’s MyMathLab to teach over 10,000 students in seven courses annually. Student success rates have increased from 40-50% in prior traditional courses to 60-75% in the redesigned courses. Retention has increased by 10%, and the cost of instruction has declined by 28%. Combining an effective software product with an innovative course design has led to these outstanding results and this well-deserved international recognition. Congratulations to the University of Alabama for its well-deserved honor! To learn more, see http://www.imsglobal.org/dispatch/publicdispatch200905.pdf.
The April 30, 2009 issue of Diverse Issues in Higher Education featured an article titled “Cutting Costs, Improving Learning.” The article focused on a chemistry redesign at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) led by Jennifer Hearne, which was part of the University System of Maryland Course Redesign Initiative. A historically black university, UMES increased the student success rate in introductory chemistry from 55% in the traditional course to 66% in the redesigned format, using active-learning techniques and effective, online tutorials. UMES was also able to reduce costs by 70%. Other redesign projects cited in the article include math redesigns at Jackson State University in Mississippi and at GeorgiaStateUniversity. The article’s author, Ronald Roach commented, “Despite a decade-long track record, many academics are still skeptical of the technology-fueled course redesign movement” and interviewed Carol Twigg about her thoughts on this topic. To read the complete article, see http://www.diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_12530.shtml.
Featuring initiatives to scale course redesign through state- and system-wide redesign programs.
Ten project teams have fully implemented their course redesign plans as part of the Arizona Board of Regents Learner-Centered Education Course Redesign Initiative. Six of the projects are at Arizona State University, one is at Northern Arizona University and three are at the University of Arizona. Seven of the ten projects demonstrated improved student learning as measured by direct comparisons of content mastery; the remaining three produced learning equivalent to the traditional format. All projects reduced their instructional costs, saving approximately $1.38 million per year. Altogether these ten redesigns impact about 22,000 students. Final reports, available at http://www.thencat.org/States/AZ/ABOR%20Project%20Descriptions.htm, include learning outcome data, course completion data, cost reduction data, a discussion of the most important pedagogical techniques that led to increased learning, a discussion of the most important cost reduction techniques that led to reduced costs, a discussion of implementation issues encountered during the redesign process and a discussion of future sustainability of the redesign.
On May 29, 2009, course redesign teams participating in the University System of Maryland Course Redesign Initiative gathered to report the results of their fully implemented redesigns. Outcomes of the projects are summarized below. Full final reports, available at http://www.thencat.org/States/USM/USM%20Project%20Descriptions.htm, include learning outcome data, course completion data, cost reduction data, a discussion of the most important pedagogical techniques that led to increased learning, a discussion of the most important cost reduction techniques that led to reduced costs, a discussion of implementation issues encountered during the redesign process and a discussion of future sustainability of the redesign.
Frostburg State University (FSU) redesigned General Psychology, using the Replacement Model. FSU reduced the number of in-class meetings: students met with the instructor only once per week for 75 minutes. During the in-class meetings, interactive activities designed to promote active learning were used rather than lectures. Students were expected to complete the online portion of the course in computer labs run by undergraduate learning assistants. During the fall 2008 full implementation, the team compared student performance on 43 common exam questions. Students from the full redesign performed significantly better (Mean = 77%) than students from the spring 2008 pilot redesign (Mean = 70%), who performed significantly better than students from traditional sections (Mean = 65%). The effect size was a strong .825. The same pattern of results (full redesign > pilot redesign > traditional sections) was obtained comparing factual versus conceptual questions. As planned, the team reduced the number of instructors (full-time and adjunct) needed to teach the course and enlarged section size from 50 to 150 students. FSU reduced their instructional costs by 71%, saving more than they anticipated: the cost-per-student was reduced from $89 to $26 rather than $32 as first estimated. To learn more, contact Megan Bradley at MBradley@frostburg.edu.
Using the Replacement Model, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) redesigned Introduction to Psychology, significantly altering both lecture and lab activities and structure. Both were redesigned to include greater active-learning experiences, more small-group activities and more engagement with course content. To measure learning, UMBC compared performance on four common exams. The percentage of students scoring an average grade of C or higher was 83.5% in the spring and fall 2008 redesigned sections compared to 72.3% in the spring 2008 traditional sections. During the fall 2008 full implementation semester, the withdrawal rate was 3.2%. This was the lowest withdrawal rate documented since 2000, when rates ranged from 4.1% to 10.3 %. The team saw additional benefits. Students were able to cover more content than could be presented in the traditional lecture. Because of time limitations in the traditional course, content was often omitted. In the redesign, students could use online resources to augment the text and seek assistance from peer mentors during study sessions. By using online interactivities and student work groups, students learned to understand social sciences research, including design and interpretation and its implications. As anticipated, the redesign decreased the number of sections required each year from seven to five, which allowed two faculty members to be reassigned each semester to teach other courses. The redesign also freed up classroom space for other courses and decreased the need for graduate teaching assistants from two to one. These changes decreased the cost-per-student from $86 to $59, a 31% reduction. To learn more, contact Eileen O’Brien at email@example.com.
The redesign of Principles of Chemistry at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) employed the Replacement Model. Three weekly 50-minute lectures were replaced by one 75-minute lecture, two hours in a computer lab plus participation in a voluntary discussion session led by an undergraduate learning assistant. A modularized chemistry tutorial program assigned and graded homework; randomly generated and graded quizzes; assigned, graded and compared pre- and post-module assessments; and, monitored student progress and time on task. During full implementation in spring 2009, the UMES team compared student final grades in the traditional and in the redesigned format. The two formats were taught using the same materials, homework assignments and exams and were coordinated by a single professor. The number of students who earned a grade of C or better in the traditional course was 54.5%. In the spring 2008 redesigned pilot, that number approached 66%, and in the spring 2009 full implementation, it was 69.4%. The percentage of D grades decreased by 11%, and the percentage of F grades decreased by 3.1%. Cost savings were higher than anticipated. The cost-per-student in the traditional course was $268; the projected cost-per-student for the redesign was $151, a 44% reduction. The full implementation of the redesign decreased the cost-per-student to $80, a 70% reduction. The additional savings were due to increased enrollment: UMES was able to enroll 30% more students per semester than before. The increased student enrollment in the course, however, significantly strained the resources for offering the laboratory co-requisite course. To learn more, contact Jennifer Hearne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Maryland University College (UMUC) redesigned two online introductory biology courses in two significant ways. First, a three-credit lecture course and a one-credit laboratory course were combined into a single four-credit course, using the principles of NCAT’s Fully Online Model. Second, the course content was greatly enhanced to give students multiple opportunities to engage with course material. These enhancements included automated quizzes with immediate feedback to students, interactive learning objects, tiered levels of self-assessments and virtual lab activities. During full implementation, UMUC found that students in the redesigned biology course performed better on a common final exam than students who took the exam when there were two separate courses. The questions on the final exam were mapped to course objectives; redesign students did well on questions which mapped to the chemistry of cells and to the role of genes and the environment in evolution, topics which are difficult for the non-major to grasp. The percentage of students earning a C or better was 49% in the traditional laboratory course and 58% in the traditional lecture course. The percentage of students earning a C or better was 61% in the redesigned combined course. The percentage of As and Bs increased from 42% in the lecture course and 38% in the lab course to 48% in the combined course and has remained constant for two semesters. UMUC anticipated saving about $80,000 per year; after the full implementation of the redesign, the savings were about $50,000. To learn more, contact Kathy Warner at email@example.com.
On June 22 and 23, 2009, 15 redesign teams from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Course Redesign Initiative met in Jackson, MS to share the results of their spring 2009 pilots. Because of the large number of redesigns, non-math disciplines reported their results on June 22 and math teams did the same on June 23. The math teams were joined by teams from the Mississippi Community and Junior Colleges who are interested in pursuing course redesign on their campuses. Brief summaries of the progress reports with contact information are presented below.
Projects at Mississippi State University
At Mississippi State University, course redesigns in two biology courses, Plants and Humans and Animal Biology, are underway using the Replacement Model. During the spring 2009 pilots, the redesign team found no significant difference in learning, based on common final exams, even though they doubled section size. The drop-failure-withdrawal rates were also about the same. The team has developed some additional approaches to increase student motivation such as developing a lecture guide to keep students on track and working more closely with academic advisors and others to be sure communication is clear. The team also experienced some difficulties with Camtasia and other technology products as they prepared some online lectures. These issues have been resolved, and the team is ready for full implementation. To learn more, contact Nancy Reichert at NReichert@biology.msstate.edu.
At Mississippi State University , the redesign pilot of Survey of Chemistry I, which included one section, replaced three weekly lectures with a set of short modules delivered online and a single weekly meeting to answer student questions and conduct in-class testing. Traditional homework was replaced by Chem21Labs, online homework software with automatic grading and immediate feedback to the students. There was no difference in performance on a common final exam in the redesigned and traditional sections. Success rates increased: the percentage of students earning a grade of C or better in the redesign pilot was 53% compared with 42% in the traditional course. Overall the team is encouraged, but based on an exit poll of students, the team feels that they did not prepare the student body well for the changes and will work to improve this communication. To learn more, contact Svein Saebo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mississippi State University piloted a redesign of Introduction to Statistics using the Replacement Model. In the pilot, the redesign was offered in two 200-seat sections each meeting for a one-hour lecture and a one-hour small recitation section overseen by second-year graduate teaching assistants under the supervision of the instructor. Additionally, students were required to spend at least two hours in the Math Domain, a 130-seat computer lab, where they completed quizzes, lab assignments and proctored tests. Students also had the opportunity to complete homework and receive one-on-one assistance from tutors. To assess learning outcomes, the team compared student performance on the same exam questions. The mean score in traditional sections during fall 2008 was 66% compared with 71% in the spring 2009 redesign pilot sections. Completion rates were higher in the redesign pilot than in previous terms. The team encountered some implementation issues, including the scheduling of weekly recitation sections before students had been to the large lecture as well as scheduling complications caused by some university holidays. These have been addressed in preparation for full implementation in fall 2009. The team has already been able to accommodate a 20% increase in enrollment without additional staffing costs. To learn more, contact Mohsen Razzaghi at email@example.com.
Using the Emporium Model, the Mississippi State University team redesigning Statics, an engineering mechanics course enrolling ~350 students annually, has made great progress. During the pilot, all lectures were offered online, and students worked in a lab to solve problems with assistance from faculty and graduate students. Comparing performance on a common final exam, the team found that traditional students had a mean score of 65% whereas redesign students had a mean score of 68%. In addition, course completion rates were much higher in the redesigned sections: the two traditional sections showed grades of C or better of 40% and 59%; the two redesigned sections showed grades of C or better of 92% and 90%. Student attendance was higher in the redesigned sections, and student attitudes were more positive. Having identified no major implementation issues, the team is working on some small ones such as lab equipment difficulties and tracking issues. The team is ready to scale to full implementation and is pleased with the progress thus far. To learn more, contact Masoud Rais-Rohani at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Projects at the University of Southern Mississippi
Using the Supplemental Model, the spring 2009 pilot of the redesign of General Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi showed no significant difference in learning between students in the traditional format and students in the redesigned format based on pre- and post-tests. Final grades also showed no significant difference between the two groups. Using peer tutors in the pilot worked well; tutors take an advanced level seminar in teaching psychology and work with students in the introductory course, which will continue in full implementation. The team encountered difficulties with their original choice of publisher materials and related technology. Having changed the source of the online materials, the team believes that they have resolved the issues and fully expects a better experience during the full implementation in fall 2009. To learn more, contact David Echevarria at David.Echevarria@usm.com.
The redesign of Introduction to Computing at the University of Southern Mississippi is on track using the Fully Online Model. Planned staffing changes have been implemented, course drift has been eliminated and a lab has been established for students. Overall the course completion rates were about the same. Student attitudes toward the course were more positive, and the team believes that students are spending more time on task. The team faced challenges in ensuring adequate coverage of course content as well as preparing faculty for the new model. The team will make some small changes as they prepare for full implementation. To learn more, contact Nancy Howell at email@example.com.
The team redesigning Nutrition and Food Systems at the University of Southern Mississippi conducted a pilot in spring 2009 using new content materials they developed using a team-teaching approach. Faculty developed individualized learning plans for students, and students could choose from lab-based or fully online sections. All sections used the same interactive text, learning exercises, recorded lectures with slides, web-based assignments and online quizzes. The team experienced a number of challenges during the pilot including problems with their course management system. The team was surprised by students’ lack of readiness for an online course. As the team moves to full implementation in fall 2009, the limited size of the lab is a constraint. For fall 2009, many of the activities will occur in small groups but not in a computer lab. To learn more, contact Denise Brown at Denise.M.Brown@usm.edu.
The University of Southern Mississippi ’s pilot of First-Year Spanish included two redesigned sections of 52 and 54 students taught by one instructor, one graduate student and one undergraduate assistant. Four traditional sections ranging in size form 24 to 27 were also offered. The same course requirements, materials, grading scale and final exam were used. Course completion was higher in the redesigned course with 86% of the students earning a C or better compared with 80% in the traditional sections. The withdrawal rate in the traditional course was 4% compared with 1% in the redesigned course. While the pilot experienced some technical problems, the publisher’s response in solving these was excellent. The team is pleased with the course coordination and the collaboration they have established. Graduate students now receive direct supervision from their first term on campus. The team found it difficult to measure attendance and participation; they are planning to include clickers in the full implementation. To learn more, contact Leah Fonder-Solano at Leah.Fonder-Solano@usm.edu.
The pilot of the Technical Writing redesign at the University of Southern Mississippi showed good results. Previously the course was taught totally online; now the course combines online lectures with a face-to-face Writing Studio held in a computer lab. A writing sample was scored using a consistent rubric to measure student learning. Students in the redesigned sections performed better than those in the traditional sections. Students and faculty are both satisfied with the new format. The team is concerned about issues related to scaling the redesign but anticipates resolving these as they move to full implementation with strong administrative support. To learn more, contact Michael Mays at Michael.Mays@usm.edu.
Projects in Mathematics
Alcorn State University’s pilot redesign of College Algebra using the Emporium Model went fairly well, although the new math center with 64 computers funded by a Title III grant did not open until several weeks into the spring 2009 term. Two redesigned sections and four traditional sections were offered. The team worked through many of the implementation issues they faced, including some student resistance as well as some communication challenges among faculty and among faculty and students. While student success in the pilot sections was not as high as in the traditional ones, faculty believe they have strategies in place to address student misunderstandings and to increase student motivation. All faculty are on board, and the team anticipates that full implementation will go much more smoothly. To learn more, contact Marchetta Atkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Using the Emporium Model, the redesign of College Algebra at Delta State University is off to a good start. Using scores on a common final exam, the mean score for the 61 students in the traditional sections was 48.2; the mean score for the 50 students in the redesign sections was 55.8%. The drop rate was higher in the redesigned section, partially because of a large drop window that was permitted. The team identified several changes they need to make for the full implementation in fall 2009, including establishing a greater incentive to get students to come to the lab. Delta State will enlarge the section size as planned for the full implementation and has developed strategies to handle the problems identified in the pilot. To learn more, contact David Hebert at email@example.com.
Jackson State University piloted sections of Intermediate and College Algebra in spring 2009. Section size was increased, and fewer sections needed to be offered. Because the lab was not large enough to hold all of the students at one time, the groups were divided and were able to complete their assignments successfully. Learning outcomes were measured using a common final exam; there was no significant difference in the scores. In Intermediate Algebra, there were more As and Bs in the redesigned sections than in the traditional sections. The team encountered several implementation challenges such as difficulties with the bookstore, issues with the tracking software for lab attendance, problems with student registration and some issues related to student motivation. These have been resolved prior to full implementation in fall 2009. To learn more, contact Tor Kwembe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mississippi University for Women piloted its redesign of College Algebra and Intermediate Algebra. In College Algebra, the team found that the students did not fare as well in the redesign as in the traditional sections. The team believes that they did not do a good job conveying the benefits of the redesign to the students, which led to some student concern about using the technology. A similar situation occurred in Intermediate Algebra. In addition to communication issues, the pilot also experienced hardware problems, which the team believes have been resolved. There were challenges with how feedback was provided, which have now been eliminated. During the summer 2009, team members are meeting with freshman orientation groups to prepare them for the redesigned format, which will be fully implemented in the fall. To learn more, contact Dorothy Kerzel at email@example.com.
The redesign of Intermediate Algebra at Mississippi Valley State University is off to a very good start. Three redesigned sections of 60 students each were piloted in spring 2009 using the Emporium Model. Students were required to spend three hours in a computer lab each week and met with the instructor in class once a week. The results of the pilot were extremely encouraging. The average score on a common final exam in the spring 2008 traditional course was 54%, and the average score in the redesigned sections was 59%. Furthermore, only 27% of the students in the traditional group scored 70% or higher, while 39% of the students in the redesign group achieved this level. In spring 2008, only 17% of students received a grade of C or better in the traditional format versus 45% of the redesign students. Conversely, the DFW rate dropped from 83% in the traditional course to 55% in the redesign. If students attended the weekly class, fulfilled their required lab time, attempted 80% of the homework and quizzes and took every test, over 80% of them earned a grade of C or better. The team is gearing up for full implementation in fall 2009 when the student numbers will be greater, making minor modifications in training and process. To learn more, contact Latonya Garner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Using the Emporium Model, the University of Southern Mississippi math redesign team is continuing a partial redesign of Intermediate Algebra that was initiated in spring 2007. The team has focused on consistent content to eliminate course drift and has established common tests, quizzes and homework. Students in the redesign showed a statistically significant increase in learning as measured by a common final exam. Students had greater contact with faculty because of the lab experience and increased communication via email. The team is still working on defining roles for staff and instructors, refining the training and maintaining the lab space. The team is moving confidently toward fully implementation in fall 2009. To learn more, contact Janice Fletcher at Janice.email@example.com.
On June 5, 2009, the redesign teams participating in the State University of New York Course Redesign Initiative gathered in Syracuse, NY, to report the outcomes of their pilot semester in spring 2009. The teams are spending the summer preparing for full implementation in fall 2009 and refining their plans to increase their overall success. Brief progress summaries with contact information are presented below.
One pilot section of the redesign of The Economic System at Buffalo State College ran in parallel with a traditional lecture-style section. Each section had approximately 150 students enrolled, and both covered the same content. Scores on a common final exam were higher for the students in the redesigned section than in the traditional section. A key feature of the redesign is the use of undergraduate learning assistants (ULAs), who were selected from students who had taken the course in the last three years and had done well. The lead faculty member met weekly with the ULAs, which will continue during full implementation. The team will continue to work on communication issues between the ULAs and the faculty as well as clarifying what should occur in the small-group discussions to actively engage students in the course. For next term, the team is considering having more online discussion and how to use the strengths of individual ULAs more effectively. To learn more, contact Karen O’Quin at OQUINK@BuffaloState.edu.
SUNY Canton’s redesign project includes combining two biology courses into one using the Replacement Model. During the spring 2009 pilot, the course completion rate for the redesigned course was 38% compared with the fall 2008 traditional course completion rate of 29%. The online modules provided students greater access to the course content with less reliance on the textbook. Challenges in the pilot included some scheduling difficulties as well as the need to align online and classroom activities. The redesign was met with some resistance from students because it was new, and some students seemed to prefer the more passive environment of the traditional course. Full implementation in fall 2009 will include a new faculty member as well as the one who taught the pilot. To learn more, contact Ronald Tavernier at Tavernier@canton.edu.
The pilot redesign of First-Year Spanish at SUNY Fredonia involved combining a two-semester sequence into a one-semester course. Students who have taken high school Spanish will earn five credits of Spanish in one term instead of six credits in two terms. Challenges in the pilot included small technical problems with the online materials and the assessment tool as well as resistance from some colleagues. There were also some communication issues with students: some students who registered for the integrated course were not prepared to be there, and some students were not aware of the format or the online component. These problems will be addressed in the full implementation. The team is satisfied with the pace of the course. Training for new instructors is planned for summer 2009. To learn more, contact Juan DeUrda at Juan.DeUrda@fredonia.edu.
The team at Niagara County Community College is redesigning its introductory statistics course. During spring 2009, double sections of 54 students, each staffed with one full-time faculty and one part-time faculty member, were piloted. The redesign included less lecture time and the use of MyStatLab. The team achieved consistency of content, one of the primary goals of the redesign. Students in the redesign did not succeed at the level of those in the traditional course, but partial credit was used in the traditional sections and not in the redesigned sections. The team is considering a move to hand-graded tests during full implementation. The team will also conduct an item analysis to see more specifically where difficulties for students may lie. To learn more, contact Daniel Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUNY College at Old Westbury began its College Algebra redesign with a pilot section of about 75 students in fall 2008 and continued with a second pilot of two sections of 75 students each in spring 2009. The fall 2008 pilot kept the entire group of students together for the first three weeks and then split the group depending upon whether or not students planned to take pre-calculus. There was no significant difference in the passing rate between the traditional sections and the redesigned section or in common final exam scores. In the spring 2009 pilot, the team added a first-day orientation about the redesign and split the groups immediately. The mean final exam grades for the redesign were slightly higher (70%) than for the traditional course (68%). However, the traditional sections had a higher course pass rate. The redesign sections were offered at 8:30 am and 4:40 pm and seemed to have a much higher number of non-traditional, working students than the traditional sections. This may have had an impact on the pass rates. More than 50% of the students in the pilot sections reported that they feel they would have done worse in a traditional course. The full implementation will include four sections of 75 or 300 students. The lab will be expanded to 80 machines in order to handle these larger numbers. To learn more, contact Jim Llana at email@example.com.
The SUNY at Oswego team piloted its redesign of College Algebra in spring 2009 with three hours of required lab time and a weekly one-hour class period. The differences on the pre- and post-tests for the traditional and redesigned sections showed no significant difference. Based on grade distributions, slightly more students in the redesigned sections were successful in the redesigned course. The team faced several implementation issues. At times, there was a disconnect between the format of questions in the software and on the paper-and-pencil tests. Students did not meet their instructors in the lab because of the need to share the lab with faculty teaching other courses. Students seemed to have difficulty meeting the deadlines, and there were frequent requests for extensions. The team is working on changing student expectations. The full implementation will also require the use of two smaller labs, as no lab is big enough to handle all of the students and the scheduling of all classes. To learn more, contact Patricia Pacitti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The history redesign team at SUNY at Potsdam had a very successful pilot in spring 2009. Although the student numbers were small, the redesign students in U.S. History scored an average of 76% on common short-answer exam items compared with 55% for the traditional sections. Success rates on essay questions in U.S History were greater in the redesign; the average score was 2.77 compared with 2.22 in the traditional sections. In European History, 100% of the students in the redesigned format were successful, compared with 71% in the traditional format. These results are very preliminary, given the small numbers of students involved. The team is working on motivating students to use the history lab as well as resolving some technical issues and textbook and software shortcomings. To learn more, contact Krista Medo at email@example.com.
The spring 2009 pilot of Physics for Life Sciences at Stony Brook University replaced lecture time with three weekly interactive workshops. Both the workshops and lab sessions were preceded by web-graded homework with a strong tutorial component. The pilot identified some issues with the infrastructure as well as with some of the virtual labs. The virtual help room was replaced with a blog managed by a graduate student to provide assistance to students. Full implementation will include additional software and other online assistance to allow students greater practice on the homework problems. The redesign has already realized cost reduction benefits: three faculty members are now available to teach three additional courses each semester, and the labs are more efficient since TAs can handle more labs than in the traditional format. During summer 2009, work on improvements needed for the redesign will continue. To learn more, contact Rod Engelmann at Engelmann@sbhep.physics.sunysb.edu.
To learn more about the SUNY Initiative, contact Harold Silverman at Harold.Silverman@suny.edu or see http://www.thencat.org/States/NY/SUNY%20Project%20Descriptions.htm.
Four projects teams have completed successful full implementations of their redesign plans as part of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Developmental Studies Redesign Initiative. A final workshop for this initiative was held on June 11, 2009 in Nashville, TN where projects reported on the outcomes achieved as part of this initiative. The four projects showed significant improvement in student learning and significant reductions in instructional costs. Two additional projects were piloted but not completed successfully, one in math at Chattanooga State Technical Community College and one in writing at Columbia State Community College. Brief descriptions of the results are provided below, and more detailed final reports are available on the NCAT web site.
The redesign of developmental math at Austin Peay State University (APSU) eliminated developmental courses entirely. Students whose placement tests indicated developmental needs enrolled in the core math course required for their major—either Mathematical Thought and Practice or Elements of Statistics—and received supplemental academic support to remediate the competencies required for success in the core course. Support was provided by Structured Learning Assistance (SLA) workshops consisting of computer-based instruction and small-group activities facilitated by student leaders who had previously excelled in math. Based on an initial assessment, students were individually assigned modules within MyMathLab. Students completed the modules on a just-in-time basis so that they were prepared to use the skills as the core course required. Prior to the redesign, 33% of developmental students who enrolled in Mathematical Thought and Practice successfully completed the course. After the redesign, that rate averaged 71%. Prior to the redesign, 23% of developmental students who enrolled in Elements of Statistics successfully completed the course. After the redesign, that rate averaged 54%. The redesigned courses decreased instructional costs from $402,804 to $193,944, a 52% reduction. To learn more, contact Harriett McQueen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The redesign project at Cleveland State Community College ( CSCC) included three developmental math courses: Basic Math, Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra. CSCC divided the content of the three courses into 32 mini-modules. Students had to master each module at a 70% level in order to move on to the next one. Students met with the instructor for one hour a week in a computer classroom and were required to spend two additional hours in a 60-station computer lab. The results have been outstanding. Student performance on common exam items significantly improved from 10 to 15 points. Course completion rates (grades of C or better) improved significantly in two of the three courses. In Elementary Algebra, the rate increased from 50% before the redesign to 68% after the redesign. In Intermediate Algebra the rate increased from 57% before the redesign to 74% after the redesign. The number of students exiting developmental math increased by 32%. In addition, CSCC produced a total cost savings of $51,418 or 19%, while reducing class size from 24 to 18. CSCC has also successfully redesigned three college-level math courses using the same format and is in the process of redesigning three more. Once the redesign of these courses is complete, approximately 95% of the students at CSCC will be taking math courses in the redesigned format. To read a full description of the CSCC project, see the CAT Viewpoint in the January 2009 issue of this newsletter. To learn more, contact John Squires at email@example.com.
As part of the redesign of the developmental math sequence at Jackson State Community College (JSCC), the redesign team divided the same three math courses into 12 modules. Student placement was determined by diagnostic testing in relation to the modules needed by his or her program of study. Using the Emporium Model, JSCC eliminated class meetings; instead students worked in the new SMART Math Center using interactive software with individualized assistance furnished by instructors and tutors (peers, adjuncts and retired teachers.) JSCC also established a “coach’s corner” where an instructor worked with students who did not pass a post-test on a particular module. To assist students, the math faculty developed study guides, which included target dates for work to be completed in order for a student to finish the course by the end of the semester. JSCC saw the average post-test score for all 12 modules increase from 73% in the traditional sections to 88% in the redesigned sections. Students earning a grade of C or better increased from 41% in the traditional sections to 59% in the redesigned sections during spring 2009. Despite adding a great deal of tutorial support for students in the redesign, JSCC reduced the cost of their developmental math program from $333,159 to $258,529, a 20% decrease. To learn more, contact Mary Jane Bassett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northeast State Technical Community College (NSTCC) redesigned their developmental reading sequence using the Emporium Model. With the assistance of technology, the redesigned course moved away from the traditional course delivery to a learner-centered, active-learning mode supported by high-quality, interactive modularized learning software. Instead of meeting as a class, students were required to spend three hours weekly in a reading center where individualized assistance was available from the instructor and trained reading center assistants. Instructors also met weekly with students to provide encouragement and intervention as needed and create a sense of “connectedness” among the students. Students in the redesigned course performed better on a common final exam. In the traditional course, scores averaged 81% while in the redesigned course scores averaged 86%. Analysis of pre/post-test Nelson Denny scores revealed that redesign students obtained a greater gain in their learning and reading skills. In the traditional course, the average gain was 11 points, while the average gain was 15 points in the spring 2008 pilot and 21 points in the fall 2008 full implementation. The fully implemented redesign at NSTCC included one large section each term of 275 (fall) and 137 (spring) students team-taught by two full-time faculty. The redesign reduced the cost-per-student from $197 in the traditional course to $97 in the redesign, a 51% decrease. To learn more, contact Xiaoping Wang at XPWANG@northeaststate.edu.
To learn more about the TBR Initiative, contact Treva Berryman at Treva.Berryman@tbr.edu or see http://www.thencat.org/States/TN/TN%20Project%20Descriptions.htm.
Featuring progress reports and outcomes achieved by the C2R program.
On June 1, 2009, six of the institutions accepted in Round III of the Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) program completed NCAT’s planning process and submitted final course redesign plans. The six-month planning process involved submitting responses to NCAT’s Readiness Criteria, gathering and analyzing baseline data on learning outcomes and instructional costs, participating in the Disciplinary Institutes in April, consulting with Redesign Scholars and NCAT staff, and working as a campus team to formulate a well-articulated plan. The teams will conduct pilots of their redesigns in fall 2009. Full abstracts of each project will be available on the NCAT web site in late summer. Summaries of each redesign plan along with contact information are presented below.
Coppin State University( CSU) plans to redesign Technology Fluency, a required course for all undergraduate students at CSU. The course serves ~510 students annually. In its traditional format, the course is offered in both face-to-face and online sections. The purpose of the redesign is to improve the success rate, accommodate all students who need the course and provide a consistent learning experience which addresses the range of students’ computer skills and learning styles. The redesigned course, using the Buffet Model, will allow students to take the course in a face-to-face, hybrid or online format and switch among the delivery formats whenever necessary. Course content will be modularized. MyITLab will be used to customize study plans, address individual student skill levels and provide in-depth project tasks. Undergraduate learning assistants will help monitor and track students’ progress and be available to answer questions. CSU will reduce the number of sections from 24 to 12 and increase section size from ~20 to ~50 students, decreasing the cost-per-student from $225 to $80, a 64% reduction. To learn more, contact Lidan Ha at LHa@coppin.edu.
Morehead State University(MSU) plans to redesign College Algebra, which enrolls ~600 students annually. The course has traditionally been taught in a lecture format by a mix of professors and instructors. The redesign will address a lack of consistency among sections to ensure that course requirements and assessment are the same for all students. College Algebra is required for nine degree programs and is a prerequisite for several science and technology courses. Improving the success rate for the ~40% of students who do not succeed in the traditional course will enable them to make progress in their majors and improve overall university retention. MSU will redesign the course using the Emporium Model. Class time will be reduced from three classroom hours to one plus three required hours in the laboratory. Students will work in small groups and access individualized assistance as necessary. The Hawkes Learning System software will be used for homework and assessment. Students will rework assignments as often as needed to achieve an 80% mastery level. Projected cost savings will be generated by reducing the number of full-time faculty teaching the course from three to two. The cost-per-student will decrease from $196 to $121, a 38% reduction. To learn more, contact Dora Ahmadi at email@example.com.
Regis University plans to redesign Essentials of Writing, a developmental writing course. About 20% of the entering students are assessed at this level despite the fact that many have earned writing credits before entering Regis. Thus, many students who are referred to Essentials of Writing do not enroll. In the redesigned format, the developmental course will be eliminated. On the first night of the initial course required in each student’s major, students will produce a writing sample, take a comprehensive grammar quiz and receive information about the writing program. Based on the outcomes of this initial assessment, students will be assigned a series of subsequent assignments related to the major course based on a set of writing competencies. Students will use MyCompLab to strengthen their grammar weaknesses and SMARTHINKING to have their writing assignments evaluated. Each evaluation will be reviewed by a writing tutor; subsequent assignments will be individualized based on demonstrated levels of competency. Students will be tutored online or face-to-face if needed. A business course will be used as the major course in the pilot. The number of students served will increase from 140 to 275 per year, and the cost-per-student will decrease from $216 to $51, a 76% reduction. To learn more, contact Jennifer Mauldin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Santa Fe College(SFC) plans to redesign Intermediate Algebra, their largest math course, which enrolls ~2760 students annually. The traditional course is predominantly lecture-based, meeting in either three 50-minute classes or two 75-minute classes each week. Students have a wide range of abilities, and their success rate is ~50%, creating a barrier to program completion and graduation. There is a lack of consistency among sections as well as poor correlation between grades received on the final exam and course grades. Using a modified Emporium Model, SFC’s redesigned course will have all students follow the same course schedule and complete the same homework, quizzes and tests. Each section will meet twice a week for 75 minutes. In one meeting, students will work in small groups, discussing concepts and the framework for the week’s material. The second meeting will be in the Math Studio where students will work on their online assignments using the MyMathLab software. The students will also schedule an additional required 75-minute block each week in the Math Studio. The redesign plan will produce cost savings by changing the mix of personnel, reducing the number of full-time faculty from 21 to 10 and part-time faculty from 25 to 17. The number of sections will be reduced from 92 to 69, and section size will grow from 30 to 40. The cost-per-student will decrease from $117 to $86, a 26% reduction. To learn more, contact Steve Grosteffon at email@example.com.
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) plans to redesign Principles of Biology, the first-semester course in a two-semester sequence designed for science and health professions majors. The traditional course, enrolling ~550 students annually, has been taught in the lecture format with faculty using a combination of PowerPoint presentations and chalk-talks. Incoming students do not have a consistent knowledge foundation. The traditional course does not engage the students who underuse the textbook and poorly retain the course content. A high number (40%) of the students are ineligible to enroll in the second-semester course due to grades of D-F-W. The redesigned course, using the Replacement Model, will reduce the number of lectures from three 50-minute sessions weekly to one 50-minute lecture session, which will incorporate computer-based learning experiences. Students will also be required to spend at least two hours in the learning resource center which features online resources and on-demand personalized assistance. Recitation sessions to review concepts will be required for students scoring less than 75% on quizzes or exams and optional for those scoring higher. The redesign plan projects cost savings by reducing the number of faculty from six to two. Section size will double from 55 to ~110, and the number of sections offered annually will be reduced from eight to five. These actions will reduce the cost-per-student from $158 to $94, a 41% decrease. To learn more, contact Joseph Pitula at firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of North Carolina Charlotte plans to redesign, an entry-level, four-credit Spanish course enrolling ~800 students in 28 sections. The first of a two-semester sequence, the course traditionally meets twice a week for 75 minutes plus an online workbook component. The traditional course has consistency issues among sections with students’ grades and learning experiences varying greatly depending upon the instructor. The department struggles each semester with a shortage of classrooms, insufficient funding and increasing enrollment. There also is insufficient time to engage students in activities that require active use of Spanish. The redesigned course, using the Replacement Model, will replace one of the two classroom sessions with online materials and assignments. Classroom time will focus on proficiency-oriented communicative learning activities such as role plays, dialogs and writing assignments using Spanish. Students will be able to practice every skill area of language proficiency. Cost savings will be achieved by reducing the annual number of part-time faculty teaching the course from 19 to 5. Enrollment will increase by 4%, from 826 to 863. Section size will double from 30 to 60 students, and the number of sections will be reduced from 54 to 27 annually. To learn more, contact Sandra Watts at email@example.com.
Featuring updates from the Alliance, a member organization of institutions, organizations and companies committed to and experienced with large-scale course redesign.
The Fourth Annual Redesign Alliance Conference will be held on March 28-30, 2010, at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, FL. The 2010 program will feature outcomes from the full implementation of redesign projects that were only in their pilot phases during the 2009 conference plus reports of new redesign plans that are underway at other institutions. Corporate members of the Alliance will be well represented with information about their products and services that can make your redesign more effective. As we’ve traveled around the country this spring and summer, we have heard again and again that the most valuable experience that those engaged in course redesign have had was participating in the Alliance conference. Once again, there will be many opportunities for all participants to exchange ideas and learn from one another. More information will be forthcoming in the fall, but please mark your calendars. We hope to see you there!
Many institutions face the problem of growing numbers of students who require remedial or developmental assistance in mathematics before moving on to college-level math courses. The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) in partnership with NCAT has recently concluded the course redesign portion of its initiative to reform its developmental math and English curriculum. The goal was to improve student success while reducing costs to both students and institutions. Three TBR institutions have demonstrated excellent results as described above: Austin Peay State University, Cleveland State Community College and JacksonStateCommunity College. These three institutions will join NCAT and the TBR in sharing their redesign approaches and successes achieved in a one-day workshop on October 16, 2009 in Nashville, TN. The workshop will include opportunities to interact with the speakers as well as to share your ideas and experiences about redesigning developmental math.
The registration fees, which cover lunch and breaks, are $60 for Redesign Alliance members and $120 for attendees whose institutions and companies are not members of the Alliance. The preliminary agenda as well as information regarding registration and the seminar location can be found at http://www.thencat.org/RedesignAlliance/TBRWorkshop.htm. If you have questions about this workshop, contact Carolyn Jarmon at cjarmon@theNCAT.org. We guarantee that you will be able to improve student success in developmental math if you follow the advice of these pioneering institutions!
People frequently ask us, “How can our institution get started on course redesign? What should we do first?” The Redesign Alliance and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) are co-sponsoring Getting Started on Course Redesign, a seminar for those who are thinking about beginning a redesign project. The day-long event will be held on the UNC-CH campus in Chapel Hill, NC, on November 13, 2009.
The seminar will provide participants the opportunity to learn about how redesign efforts have begun at both four- and two-year institutions and how these initial redesigns has spread to other departments on campus. Representatives from UNC-CH and Tallahassee Community College will share their experiences with initiating course redesigns in more than one academic area. The agenda includes plenty of time for discussion, including an interactive exercise to help attendees think about how to get started.
The registration fees, which cover lunch and breaks, are $60 for Redesign Alliance members and $120 for attendees whose institutions and companies are not members of the Alliance. The preliminary agenda as well as information regarding registration and the seminar location can be found at http://www.thencat.org/RedesignAlliance/UNCCHWorkshop.htm. If you have questions about this workshop, contact Carolyn Jarmon at cjarmon@theNCAT.org. This will be an exciting event for those who are ready to get started on their own course redesigns. We look forward to seeing you there!
NCAT welcomes three new members of the Redesign Alliance Advisory Board: Carol Hawkins, Vice President for Educational Programs at Seminole Community College; Lynn House, the newly appointed Deputy Commissioner of Academic and Student Affairs at the Louisiana Board of Regents (formerly the Assistant Commissioner of Academic and Student Affairs at the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning); and, Phoebe Rouse, Instructor of Mathematics at Louisiana State University. These three new members replace former board members who are retiring or no longer active and continue the Alliance’s emphasis on including representatives of two-year and four-year institutions, state systems and the private sector. To learn more about the Redesign Alliance, see http://www.thencat.org/RA.htm.
Linking content and software providers with leading edge institutions.
Building on highly successful prior workshops, Pearson Education will hold its annual course redesign workshop on September 25 - 26, 2009, in Miami Beach, FL. Participants will learn more about how to get started on course redesign from NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon and from large- and small-group interaction with experienced educators in accounting, biology, chemistry, developmental reading and writing, economics, English composition, math 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 leading technology products. To learn more and to register, go to http://www.pearsoncourseredesign.com/events.html or contact Karen Mullane at Karen.Mullane@pearson.com.
Reporting on initiatives that share the Center's goals and objectives.
Kati Haycock, founder of The Education Trust, will be awarded this year’s Education Commission of the States (ECS) James Bryant Conant Award for her exceptional contribution to childhood advocacy and classroom achievement. Named for Harvard University president and co-founder of ECS, the Conant Award has been labeled one of the most prestigious in the national education community. “Kati Haycock’s leadership and work using student achievement data has raised awareness and expectations for educators and policymakers. ECS is delighted to recognize the tremendous positive impact she has made on the American education system,” explained ECS President Roger Sampson. Haycock founded The Education Trust, a national organization dedicated to “the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college.” Acknowledged as a true authority in the world of education reform, Ed Trust advances its mission along several fronts, from raising its voice in national and state policy debates to helping teachers improve instruction in their classrooms. Regardless of where it occurs, their work maintains a relentless focus on improving the education of all students, and particularly those whom the system has traditionally left behind: low-income students and students of color. Congratulations, Kati! To learn more about the Ed Trust, see http://www2.edtrust.org/edtrust/default.
Recently released by the American Enterprise Institute, Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don't) exposes the dramatic variation in completion rates across nearly 1,400 colleges and universities. The study uses data from the U.S. Department of Education to examine graduation rates across schools with similar levels of admissions selectivity. There is wide variation in graduation rates across institutions within the same selectivity categories. Within the same group of "competitive" schools, the top ten have an average graduation rate of more than 75%, while the bottom ten graduate just 20% in six years. Less than 55% of first-time students at the average four-year college graduate within six years, and at many institutions, students have less than a one in three chance of earning a degree--even as they spend thousands of dollars on tuition and accumulate thousands of dollars of debt. "Such differences suggest that while student motivation, finances, and ability matter greatly when it comes to college completion, the practices of higher education institutions matter, too," said Frederick M. Hess, lead author of Diplomas and Dropouts. To read the full study, see http://www.aei.org/paper/100019.
The National Center for Academic Transformation serves as a source of expertise and support for those in higher education who wish to take advantage of the capabilities of information technology to transform their academic practices.
Copyright 2009, The National Center for Academic Transformation