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The Learning MarketSpace, July 2012

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

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

THE CAT VIEWPOINT

WHAT'S NEW

CHANGING THE EQUATION

CENTER CHRONICLES

REDESIGN SCHOLARS PROGRAM

THE REDESIGN ALLIANCE

COMMON GROUND

SUBSCRIPTIONS, SUBMISSIONS, ARCHIVES, REPOSTING

THE CAT VIEWPOINT

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

Improving Learning and Reducing Costs: Initial Project Outcomes from Changing the Equation

In November 2009, the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) launched a three-year, program, Changing the Equation (CTE), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The purpose of the program was to engage the nation’s community colleges in a successful redesign of their remedial/developmental math sequences to improve student learning and reduce instructional costs. Each participant in Changing the Equation redesigned its entire developmental math sequence--all sections of all developmental courses offered--using NCAT's Emporium Model and commercially available instructional software. Each redesign modularized the curriculum, allowing students to progress through the developmental course sequence at a faster pace if possible or at a slower pace if necessary, spending the amount of time needed to master the course content.

Following a national competition, NCAT accepted 38 institutions to participate in the program. CTE partnered experienced NCAT Redesign Scholars who had previously led successful math redesigns with new institutions to mentor them in the process. The redesign projects piloted their redesigns in spring 2011 and fully implemented them in fall 2011. Detailed descriptions of selected individual redesign projects and the outcomes each achieved will be posted on the NCAT website in early fall.

At the start, we said that if institutions followed our recommendations—derived from the successes achieved in past course redesign programs in developmental and college-level mathematics— we could guarantee that they would improve student learning, increase student completion of the developmental math sequence, produce students well-prepared to tackle college-level math and reduce instructional costs.

And that is exactly what happened.

Not all institutions followed our advice. Despite receiving repeated guidance from both NCAT staff and NCAT Redesign Scholars, a number of projects simply ignored us and failed to do things such as requiring class/lab participation, awarding participation points as an incentive for students to attend class/lab, establishing deadlines and clear expectations, monitoring student progress and intervening when they were not meeting deadlines, and so on. In addition, five of the original 38 institutions withdrew from the program due to an inability to meet the program’s requirements.

Those that followed our advice achieved outcomes in line with past NCAT mathematics redesigns.

Twenty of the Changing the Equation projects have submitted final reports; the remaining 13 will do so in August. What follows are the outcomes for the first 20 projects.

Improved Learning Outcomes

Twenty institutions redesigned a total of 54 developmental math courses. Student learning outcomes in the traditional and redesigned formats of the courses were measured by comparing performance on common final examinations, common exam items and/or gains on pre- and post-tests with the following results:

  • 46 courses (85%): showed significant improvements
  • 6 courses (13%): showed no significant difference
  • 2 courses (2%): insufficient data was collected to make a comparison

Examples of comparative means on common final examinations:

  • At Pearl River Community College (MS), a comparison of common final exam scores between the traditional developmental math courses and the redesigned courses indicated that mean final exam scores improved in all three of the redesigned courses: 45 vs. 84 in Fundamentals of Math, 51 vs. 74 in Beginning Algebra and 60 vs. 72 in Intermediate Algebra.                      
  • At Robeson Community College (NC), mean scores on common final exams improved from 69 to 85 in Essential Mathematics and 69 to 79 in Introductory Algebra.
  • At Somerset Community College (KY), mean scores on common final exams improved from 75 to 87 in Pre-Algebra and from 72 to 82 in Basic Algebra with Measurement.

Examples of comparative means on common items from examinations:

  • Manchester Community College (CT) compared 15 common test items embedded into course assessments, five early in the semester, five at mid-semester and five in the final examination. A weighted average of correct responses showed an increase from 49 to 57 in Pre-Algebra and from 34 to 50 in Elementary Algebra.
  • At Oakton Community College (IL), means on common exam items increased from 49 to 77 in Pre-Algebra, 42 to 68 in Elementary Algebra, 60 to 82 in Elementary Geometry and 33 to 64 in Intermediate Algebra.
  • At Northwest-Shoals Community College (AL), means increased from 73 to 82 in Basic Mathematics, 70 to 79 in Elementary Algebra and 64 to 79 in Intermediate Algebra.

Improved Course Completion

NCAT asked each institution to compare course-by-course completion rates (grades of C or better or grades of P in a P/F system) between the traditional and redesigned formats. Twenty institutions redesigned a total of 54 developmental math courses with the following course-by-course completion results:

  • 7 courses (13%): had higher completion rates, 3 of which were significantly higher
  • 5 courses (9%): showed no significant difference in completion rates
  • 28 courses (52%): had lower completion rates, 16 of which were significantly lower
  • 12 courses (22%): completion could not be calculated due to the collapse of multiple courses into one*
  • 2 courses (4%): insufficient data were collected to make a comparison

* In order to compare individual course completion rates, one needs to look at the percentage of students who complete the same amount of material in the same period of time. In the redesign of their developmental math sequence, four institutions collapsed what had been 12 different courses into four modularized courses. Students enrolled in the redesigned courses could begin anywhere from Module 1 to Module 15, etc. and pick up where they left off in a subsequent semester. Thus, there was no comparative basis to calculate completion rates.

In conducting an extended analysis of the discrepancy between increased learning outcomes and decreased course completion rates in Changing the Equation, NCAT has discovered a variety of reasons why course-by-course completion comparisons are not a true measure of the success or lack of success of the program. Among them are:

  • Prior Grade Inflation

The majority of Changing the Equation teams discovered that pass rates in the traditional format were inflated by prior inconsistencies in grading practices. Unlike redesign students who were assessed on common outcomes using common assessment methods, those in the traditional courses were assessed in a variety of ways which led to overall grading differences. Contributors to prior grade inflation in the traditional course included 1) having no clear guidelines regarding the award of partial credit, 2) allowing students to fail the final exam yet still pass the course, 3) failing to establish common standards for topic coverage (in some sections, entire topics were not covered, yet students passed), and, 4) failing to provide training and oversight of part-time instructors. Thus, the C or better rates for the traditional courses were almost universally inflated. (See the July 2011 issue of The Learning MarketSpace for a full discussion of this issue.)

  • Mastery Learning Requirement in the Redesign

In the redesign, students were required to master all of the content of all of the courses. Redesign students had to pass each module independently at levels ranging from 75% - 90% before being able to progress to the next module, showing mastery in homework assignments, practice tests and module exams. 

In the traditional format, students exited the course by simply attaining a total cumulative score of at least 70% or 75%. Based on averaging grades, students were able to earn a C or better by passing enough tests and learning enough competencies but not necessarily all. In traditional sections, students would often continue on to the next topic without having demonstrated mastery of the previous topic.

Raising the mastery level above 70%–75% to 80–90%% essentially raised the cut score for a student to earn a C in the redesigned course.

Mastery learning thus meant that students were doing more work and learning more, which often took longer to do so. That meant that many students did not complete a particular course by the end of the term. They were able to start where they left off in the subsequent term. But because course completion statistics were calculated as the number of students finishing the course at the end of the term, they missed counting students who were still enrolled and progressing.  Mastery learning, while sometimes taking longer to accomplish, ensured that students were well prepared to take on college-level work.

  • Redesigned Courses Were More Difficult

This phenomenon expressed itself in two ways: 1) the redesigned course had more assignments, more quizzes and more tests than the traditional course and consequently took longer to finish, and/or 2) the redesigned course included more content than the traditional course and consequently took longer to finish.

For example, at Nashville State Community College (TN) the redesigned course was created by combining topics from the three traditional courses into one course with the expectation that students could master the material in one semester. This resulted in all students, regardless of initial placement scores and level, being required to master the same material in the same timeframe. The redesigned course material covered topics from Basic Math through Intermediate Algebra, and a review of data indicated varying completion rates for students based on how they would have placed in the traditional courses.

Despite these differences in grading policies in the traditional and redesigned formats and consequently the lower course-by-course completion rates, there are indications that redesigned students, in the majority of instances, are completing at a higher rate.  Of the 54 developmental math courses that were redesigned, a grade of “making progress” (MP) or the equivalent was awarded in 35 of them. Students receiving an MP grade must have been making substantial progress at a high mastery level. Definitions varied from school to school (for example, must have completed 86% of modules at 80% mastery, 80% of modules at 70% mastery, 75% of modules at 75% mastery, 75% of modules at 80% mastery, 60% of modules at 80% mastery, 50% of modules at 80% mastery and 50% of modules at 75% mastery.) These definitions are equivalent to a grade of C or better in the traditional courses.

When adding the MP grades to the C or better grades, the completion picture improves significantly:

  • 24 courses (69%): had higher completion rates, 14 of which were significantly higher
  • 4 courses (11%): showed no significant difference in completion rates
  • 7 courses (20%): had lower completion rates, 6 of which were significantly lower

These results are extremely encouraging, especially when taking into account the differences between grading policies in the traditional and redesigned formats of the courses.

NCAT has learned that one cannot evaluate the success of Changing the Equation by comparing individual course completion rates. Completion of the developmental math sequence and success in subsequent college-level math courses are the two most important data points to use to compare student success rates between the traditional and redesigned formats. If only 20% of students exit the developmental math sequence but 75% pass the college-level course, you still have a problem just as you did when 50% exited the sequence but were unprepared and only 30% passed the college-level course.  Unfortunately, the time period of the program has not allowed sufficient time to collect those data.

A few of the participating institutions have had sufficient time to collect preliminary data on how well students who emerged from the redesigned sequence performed in college-level courses compared with those who exited from the traditional format. The results are positive and, we believe, will be replicated in the other projects as more time goes by.

  • At Northwest Shoals Community College (AL), the percentage of developmental math students successfully completing a college-level math course increased from 42% before the redesign to 76% after the redesign in 2011. NWSCC course-by-course completion developmental math rates were equivalent (one course) or higher (two courses) in the redesign.
  • At Somerset Community College (KY), the percentage of developmental math students successfully completing college-level Applied Mathematics increased from 56% before the redesign to 67% after the redesign in 2011. The percentage of developmental math students successfully completing college-level Intermediate Algebra increased from 37% before the redesign to 43% after the redesign in 2011.
  • Pearl River Community College (MS) redesigned its college-level College Algebra course. Student performance on the final examination increased from a mean of 64.4 in the fall 2009 and 2010 traditional format to 73.8 in the fall 2011 redesign. Completion rates in College Algebra went from 59% prior to the redesign to 76% in the spring 2011 pilot and 67% during the fall 2011 full implementation.

Reductions in Instructional Cost

With regard to cost savings, the CTE results were almost universally successful. All but one of the 20 CTE projects reduced their costs. Some saved more than their projected savings; others saved less.

The average projected reduction in the cost-per-student was about 25%.

  • 5 institutions (13%) projected a reduction of 40% to 55%.
  • 13 institutions (34%) projected a reduction of 30% to 40%.
  • 12 institutions (32%) projected a reduction of 15% to 30%.
  • 8 institutions (21%) projected a reduction of 15% or less.

NOTE: These data include all 38 institutions originally accepted into the program.

The actual reduction in the cost-per-student for the 20 institutions was about 20%.

  • 4 institutions (20%) reduced the cost-per-student between 30% and 40%.
  • 10 institutions (50%) reduced the cost-per-student between 15% and 30%.
  • 5 institutions (25%) reduced the cost-per-student 15% or less.
  • 1 institution (5%) did not produce cost savings.

NOTE: These data include the 20 institutions that have thus far reported final results.

There were two primary ways that cost reduction was achieved: 1) increasing section size or 2) increasing the number of sections that full-time and adjunct faculty counted toward their load (e.g., teaching two redesigned sections rather than one section for one workload credit.) Both of these strategies were implemented without increasing faculty workload because of the elimination of repetitive tasks such as hand-grading homework, quizzes and exams.

Examples of increasing section size:

  • The Manchester Community College (CT) team followed their plan and saved more than initially anticipated. Section size was doubled from 25 students in the traditional format to 50 students in the redesigned format. The number of sections offered was reduced from 60 to 31. Instructors were able to double the number of students because there was significant reduction in faculty time to grade homework and prepare assessment materials. In addition, they were assisted in each redesigned section by two or three tutors. This allowed ample time to provide the assistance needed for all students. There was almost never a time when students had to wait for help, and most instructors felt an improved engagement with their students.
  • At Volunteer State Community College (TN) Significant cost savings were accomplished by 1) increasing class size to a weighted average of 40, 2) changing faculty/ staff ratios, and 3) streamlining the curriculum to include multiple exits to university-parallel mathematics. Once Vol State’s new mathematics lab is completed in fall 2012, it will seat 50 students, and classes on the main campus will be larger, as originally planned. The overall cost-per-student after full implementation of the redesign will decline about 28%, from $199 in the traditional format to $144 in the redesign. Savings realized will provide administration-endorsed opportunities for 1) expansion of the Emporium Model to university-parallel math courses, 2) support of upper-division, low-enrollment STEM courses, 3) scheduled professional development for faculty at conferences, 4) released-time supporting faculty research and 5) supplemental instruction.  

Examples of increasing the number of sections counted in load:

  • Pearl River Community College (MS) realized significant cost savings as a result of the redesign project. As part of the redesign, full-time faculty workload changed. Pearl River increased the number of developmental math sections taught by full-time faculty each term from five to nine for the same workload credit and reduced section size from 24 to 20. The student load for each instructor increased on average from 134 students each term to over 160 students. In addition, faculty worked five hours weekly in the lab with no change in the overall hours devoted to developmental math.  The redesign format allowed one instructor to teach more students than were taught in the traditional format while decreasing class size. In the traditional format, each instructor taught five three-day-a-week sections with 24 students. In the redesigned format, that same instructor could teach nine sections of 20 students plus spend five hours tutoring in the lab. This could be accomplished because the class only met once a week and because no hand-grading was required. Overall, faculty productivity rose by 31%.
  • The Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (AL) team realized significant cost savings as a result of the redesign. The primary cost-saving technique was that each faculty member (full-time and adjunct) taught two developmental math redesigned sections of 29 students for one workload credit rather than one section of 24 students as they did in the traditional format. The availability of tutors and instructors in each class made it possible to increase section size and still provide individualized attention and assistance to all students. In addition, the number of faculty hours spent on developmental math was reduced by eliminating duplication of faculty responsibilities. Faculty time will be reallocated for other tasks within the mathematics department. A substantial portion of these cost savings were used to purchase additional computers for the Math Center for the redesign of other college-level math courses in spring 2012 including Mathematical Applications, College Mathematics with Applications and Introductory Mathematics I.

The One-Room Schoolhouse

Many of the projects also used the “one-room schoolhouse” approach to deal with low-enrollment sections, producing both institutional cost savings as well as clear benefits to students. Previously, when small sections did not “fill” (particularly at smaller campuses and sites or during certain class times), they had to either be cancelled, (interrupting student progression through the sequence and incurring lost revenue to the college) or offered at a relatively high cost. Using the one-room schoolhouse meant that the college offered multiple developmental math courses in the same computer classroom or lab at the same time. Students worked with instructional software, and instructors provided help when needed. Even though students were at different points in the developmental sequence, they could be in the same classroom. This strategy enabled the institution to increase course offerings and avoid cancelling classes, which, in turn, reduced scheduling roadblocks for students and enabled them to complete their degree requirements sooner. Since fewer sections were needed to accommodate the same number of students, the overall cost-per-student was lowered.

Sustainability

We asked the CTE institutions, will the redesign be sustained now that the CTE program has concluded? All 20 institutions plan to sustain their redesigns. Here are some examples of their responses:

  • At both Guilford Technical Community College (NC) and Robeson Community College (NC), the sustainability of the redesign is not in question. The administration at both institutions has supported the redesigns from the beginning and continues to support them. North Carolina has recently redesigned the statewide developmental math curriculum into eight one-credit modules. Students will have multiple exit points based on their program of study, and the Emporium Model will facilitate this implementation.
  • The mathematics department at Manchester Community College (CT) has consistently supported redesign.  Although there was initial skepticism and inertia to overcome, the result has been a very collegial process, one which has strengthened the department. The entire college is exceptionally supportive of this initiative. The impact of redesign has been felt and recognized in sister community colleges, the state university system and local school districts. In addition, the process of creating the math redesign has positioned the college in a leadership role in several statewide initiatives to improve college readiness among high school graduates.
  • At Nashville State Community College (TN), there is little doubt that the changes to the developmental math program will be sustained and most likely will extend into other college-level math courses. The program has been changing for the past three years with the full support of the college in an effort to better address the needs of our students. The improved retention and success rates indicate that the changes are having a positive impact, and the college expects these trends to continue as the team modifies course content and delivery. Additionally, instructors who were initially hesitant about the program now fully support the changes, and some have begun to take an active role in the decision-making processes related to running the program.
  • Since participating in Changing the Equation, the implementation of the Emporium Model at Northwest Shoals Community College (AL) has shown increased student success.  Due to the success of the project, the math department is considering the redesign of Pre-Calculus with Algebra, Introduction to Technical Mathematics and Mathematical Applications. The continued success of the Emporium Model strengthened faculty and administrative commitment to the mathematics redesign project. This commitment now extends throughout the transitional studies division to include redesigns of English and reading courses.

Conclusion

Changing the Equation required teams to radically redesign multiple courses in a relatively short period of time. Most projects had significant implementation issues that they needed to deal with (faculty training, faculty buy-in, technology problems, registrarial and financial aid issues, facilities issues, and so on.) In addition, most of the community colleges were unaccustomed to collecting assessment and cost data to evaluate the efficacy of their redesigns. Yet despite these challenges, they all intend to continue and improve on the initial implementations of their redesigns.

In retrospect, the timeline for Changing the Equation was probably too aggressive, given the amount of change that was required. The fall 2011 full implementation period was, in many respects, more similar to a typical NCAT pilot period. Teams made mistakes that they are now in the process of correcting, and many have acknowledged having multiple difficulties during the transition. It is not coincidental that those institutions with a “head start” on the redesign process (those that began their redesigns before the formal grant period started) have shown the strongest results.

We at NCAT are confident that if those institutions with poor results to date make the necessary changes and “follow the rules” of the Emporium Model, they too will show the strong outcomes demonstrated by prior math redesign projects. The emergence of institutions that have successfully redesigned their developmental math sequences outside of a formal NCAT program (such as those described below in Common Ground) by “following the rules” gives us further confidence in the Emporium Model. We congratulate the Changing the Equation participants on their accomplishments thus far and look forward to their continuing achievements in addressing one of higher education’s most vexing problems, increasing student success in developmental mathematics.

--Carol A. Twigg

WHAT'S NEW

Featuring updates and announcements from the Center.

NCAT Goes to Congress (Again)

On July 19, 2012, Carol Twigg testified before the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).  The hearing was titled “Making College Affordability a Priority: Promising Practices and Strategies.” (Carol also testified before a sub-committee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on the same subject on July 10, 2003.) Carol expressed her view to the committee that U.S. higher education has a productivity problem and that course redesign can help to address it. She shared the results of the more than 150 course redesign projects that have occurred over the last 13 years. Senators questioned her about how the redesigns actually worked, why was it not possible to have one psychology course for the whole country and what should the federal government be doing to have an impact on the affordability problem. In response to the last question, Carol recommended that federal grant programs that focus on education reform at agencies such as NSF and the Departments of Education and Labor include cost reduction strategies as part of their application guidelines in addition to “innovation” or “curricular improvement.” Carol was joined by the presidents of Iowa State University, Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana and Tallahassee Community College as well as the dean of the college of education at Michigan State University. To watch the full hearing, including Carol’s testimony and the Q&A period, go to http://www.c-span.org/Events/College-University-Leaders-Testify-on-College-Affordability/10737432453/. To read Carol’s full written testimony, see http://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Twigg.pdf

National Research Council Takes on Higher Education Productivity

The National Research Council recently published a report, Improving Measurement of Productivity in Higher Education. Sponsored by Lumina Foundation for Education, the report was produced by a National Academies panel chaired by Teresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia. Among the panel members were NCAT president Carol Twigg and Peter Ewell, a member of the NCAT board of directors. NCAT’s work is featured in the report as a contemporary example of how instructional productivity can be increased.

The report often seems contradictory within itself, so much so that articles in Inside Higher Education and The Chronicle of Higher Education reached opposite conclusions about its value. 

Headlining its review, “Friendly Call for Gauging Productivity,“ Inside Higher Education commented, “Arguing that higher education must do a better job defining and tracking productivity, but that the current models for doing so are inadequate, the National Research Council released a book-length study suggesting a new set of metrics that would allow for a sectorwide look at productivity.” The article quoted the study’s authors in saying the report “presents an analytically well-defined concept of productivity in higher education and recommends empirically valid and operationally practical guidelines for measuring it. In addition to its obvious policy and research value, improved measures of productivity may generate insights that potentially lead to enhanced departmental, institutional, or system educational processes.” The article accurately summarized the model presented: “Productivity, as the report's authors define it, would factor in both credit hours completed and degrees awarded compared to labor costs and other expenses. By accounting for both degrees and credit hours, the model would reward institutions for graduating students without penalizing them for having large numbers of part-time students.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s assessment (headlined “Quest for College Accountability Produces Demand for Yet More Student Data”) focused on the report’s discussion of the difficulty of measuring productivity within higher education. The Chronicle commented, “Despite growing pressure from policy makers and prospective students for colleges to prove their value, the institutions have often insisted that their unique missions make simple measurements forbiddingly difficult. Now they have documented proof. After three years of studying ideas for measuring institutional quality, an expert panel assembled by the National Research Council delivered a 192-page report that indicates just how hard it is to do that.” The article also quoted the study’s authors:  “While productivity measurement in many service sectors is fraught with conceptual and data difficulties, nowhere are the challenges—such as accounting for input differences, wide quality variation of outputs, and opaque or regulated pricing—more imposing than for higher education.” The article concludes, “The National Research Council panel may have provided more detail on the dimensions of those obstacles, but it wasn't immediately clear that it provided any new path through the maze of variables.”

To decide which view is correct, you will have to read the entire report, which can be found at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13417#description. To read the Inside Higher Education article, see: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/05/18/study-proposes-new-model-calculating-college-productivity#ixzz21Yg3UkMv. To read the Chronicle article, see http://chronicle.com/article/Quest-for-College/131910/.

Kentucky Holds Statewide Conference on Innovation

On May 17, 2012, Carolyn Jarmon delivered a keynote address at the Kentucky Innovations 2012 Conference at Northern Kentucky University. One of the conference’s primary themes was using course redesign to improve student learning. In addition to Carolyn, there were multiple presenters who had already engaged in course redesign. Carolyn’s comments focused on the goals, models and key principles of course redesign and were followed by an interactive question and answer session. The 300 participants included a mix of faculty, academic administrators and technology professionals from colleges and universities across the state of Kentucky. For more information about the conference, see http://kyinnovations.org/.

WICHE Sponsors Webinar on Mathematics Course Redesign

Recognizing the importance of course redesign for higher education institutions, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) sponsored a webinar, “The Math Emporium: Redesigning Math Courses to Benefit Students AND Institutions,” on June 13, 2012. WICHE is facilitating a learning network of organizations and agencies, called the Adult College Completion Network, dedicated to improving adult college completion programs and disseminating lessons learned new results and promising practices that deserve more study. The network has identified mathematics as a hurdle for many adults as they seek to complete their college degrees or certificates. During the hour-long session, Carolyn Jarmon provided an overview of NCAT redesign projects in mathematics at both the developmental and college-level. To view the webinar, see http://adultcollegecompletion.org/webinars.

Sloan Consortium Webinar on Scaling in Higher Education To Feature NCAT

Well known for its pioneering efforts in supporting the growth of online education, the Sloan Consortium will host a webinar, “Scale,” on September 6, 2012 as part of its Online Education Research Symposium Series. The webinar will focus on the multiple issues that arise when institutions seek to scale their innovative efforts on campus and across campuses. After an introduction by Frank Mayadas, senior advisor to the Sloan Consortium, the webinar will be moderated by Jan Poley, president of the American Distance Education Consortium.  Carolyn Jarmon will share NCAT’s experience and successes with scaling course redesign in multiple institutions to high numbers of students in large-enrollment, introductory courses as well as across courses at a particular institution. Other presenters from Rio Salado College in Arizona, the University of Florida and the University of Maryland University College will provide case studies of their experiences. The Sloan Consortium is an institutional and professional leadership organization dedicated to integrating online education into the mainstream of higher education, helping institutions and individual educators improve the quality, scale, and breadth of online education. For more information about the webinar, see http://sloanconsortium.org/research_symposium/2012/topics/scale.

Survey Seeks to Assess NCAT’s Course Redesign Methodology in Australian Context

As part of the Australian Course Redesign Initiative sponsored by the L.H. Martin Institute and the Australian Teaching and Learning Council, the project staff are administering a survey that will address three topics: general approach, methodology and overall satisfaction with the process. The survey participants include the redesign teams from James Cook University and the Australian Catholic University, (both those that were selected to conduct a redesign as well as those who were not or who withdrew from the program during the planning process), institutional administrators, NCAT staff and project staff from the L.H. Martin Institute.  Some of the topics covered in the survey include the clarity and usefulness of the Orientation Webinar and the Planning Webinar, NCAT’s resources that were provided for use in planning the redesign project, the feedback and consulting assistance received from NCAT, the assistance received from the L.H. Martin Institute, the process used on campus to promote the initiative, and the timeline and overall process of developing a redesign plan.  Results of the survey will help determine how the approach can be improved and made more applicable to the Australian context. To learn more about the initiative, see http://www.lhmartininstitute.edu.au/consultancy-and-bespoke/57-call-to-participate-redesign-projects-for-james-cook-university-and-australian-catholic-university or contact Peter Bentley at peter.bentley@unimelb.edu.au.

CHANGING THE EQUATION

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

CTE Institutions Report on Full Implementation

The community colleges participating in Changing the Equation have fully implemented the redesigns of their developmental math sequences, using the Emporium Model and a modularized curriculum. Twenty of the projects reported their findings at a workshop in Dallas, TX on March 30, 3012, which Carol summarizes above.  After collecting data from a second term of full implementation, the remaining institutions will report their outcomes at a workshop to be held on August 7, 2012, in Baltimore, MD. The results presented above will be updated to include data from the second group prior to posting a full report on the NCAT website in fall 2012. The report will include summary data charts, individual case studies and a discussion of lessons learned from the program. To learn more about Changing the Equation, see http://www.theNCAT.org/Mathematics/CTE/CTE.htm.

CENTER CHRONICLES

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

Missouri Institutions Report on Pilot Results

Thirteen project teams participating in the Missouri Course Redesign Initiative met on June 20, 2012, in Columbia, MO to report the outcomes of their redesign pilots. NCAT recommends that every large-scale redesign project conduct a “pilot” of their redesign before moving to full implementation. What do we mean by a pilot? A pilot involves testing the redesign idea, including most if not all of the important quality improvement and cost savings characteristics of the planned redesign, with a sub-set of students enrolled in the course. Enrollment in the pilot section(s) needs to be large enough so the redesign team can learn what problems students are likely to face and how to resolve these prior to scaling up to full implementation in all sections of the course. The pilot period provides an opportunity for the redesign team to uncover technology issues or any problems with newly designed assignments or activities that might emerge. For some institutions, the pilot term also provides a time to collect consistent data on student learning from both traditional and redesign sections that can be compared when consistent historical data are not available. For many institutions, the pilot has provided a time to make sure that important audiences both on and off campus have been informed of changes in the course and to be sure that all potential “bumps in the road” have been smoothed. Overall, a pilot provides the redesign team with a “dress rehearsal” of the redesigned course and an opportunity to resolve any issues that may arise. Teams have learned that it is much easier to solve problems with 150-200 students rather than with 1,000 students!

As in past redesign initiatives, the pilot period uncovered issues related to assessment, technology, student engagement, facilities and so on. The Missouri teams clearly learned a lot from the pilot period and are making the needed changes in preparation for the fall 2012 full implementation. What follows is a brief summary of each project.

The redesign of Basic English at Lincoln University seeks to eliminate course drift and increase student engagement using the Replacement Model. After full implementation, cost savings will accrue from increasing class size from 20 students to 26 per section, which will be made possible by using computer-grading software, adding course assistants to share grading/course management duties and having computer lab assistants help answer student questions and troubleshoot problems in the lab portion of the course. The pilot uncovered some issues that the team will address before the full implementation including better training for the lab assistants and the course assistant so that they spend their time well, reconfiguring some of the assignments and resolving technology-related submission issues.

At Missouri Southern State University, the team redesigning Oral Communication is using the Replacement Model with the goal of addressing inconsistency in course delivery and invalid alignment of objectives, assessment and content. The team has created a training manual for faculty and undergraduate learning assistants so that they have a clear understanding of how the course will operate in its redesigned format. They are working on establishing the needed labs across campus to be prepared for larger numbers of students in the fall. Other issues they face include increasing student lab attendance and addressing some resistance to the new model in other areas on campus. Once fully implemented, the redesign will decrease the number of sections offered annually from 44 to four, increasing section size from ~23 to 230 students. Because they were able to reduce the number of adjuncts needed in the pilot, the team has already experienced some cost reduction.

The Missouri State University redesign of Introductory Psychology uses the Replacement Model. Because this is a large enrollment course with 2,500-2,700 students annually, the team seeks to make the course more engaging and to reduce course drift, which has resulted from using a large number of adjuncts in the past. Based on responses to student surveys, it was clear that some of the students in the redesign did not understand the Replacement Model and the need to work outside of class, given there were fewer class meetings. Some of the students in the redesign perceived the new format of the course as requiring more work than the traditional format. As part of full implementation, the team will explain the course structure more clearly to students. They will also work on improving communication with students and promoting greater student engagement in the online activities. The team has already seen the reduction of course drift in the redesigned format and believes they will also eliminate grade inflation in the redesign.  After full implementation, the redesign will produce cost savings through a combination of larger class size (from 153 to 300 students) and the restructuring of personnel. The addition of a senior learning assistant to each section will allow full-time faculty members to teach double the number of students and to teach an additional course in the department.

At the Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST), the redesign of Chemistry I, using the Buffet Model, seeks to increase student engagement in the course content, improve students’ study and learning strategies, recognize the differences in students’ backgrounds in chemistry and help them develop greater conceptual thinking. During the pilot, the registrar required students to register for either the face-to-face or the online version of the course. (The team’s plan was to allow students to learn more about the buffet options before making a choice and move back and forth between modes.) Prior to full implementation, the team is working to resolve this issue with the registrar. Resolution of this issue is critical to the success of the redesign plan, which calls for increasing section size from 200 to 400 students by transferring half of students’ learning experiences to an online environment.

Using the Replacement Model, the redesign of Introduction to Business at Missouri Western State University (MWSU) was undertaken because the course suffered from considerable course drift and a consistently high DFW rate. After full implementation, cost savings will result from reducing full-time faculty teaching the course annually from seven in the traditional mode to two in the redesign assisted by adjuncts and undergraduate learning assistants. Observations during the pilot were that the non-traditional (adult) students liked the Stock Market Game used in the redesign more than the traditional students, but they were not as engaged with other kinds of gaming included in the course.  Challenges for the fall full implementation include an anticipated reduction in enrollment because of changes in relationships with local community colleges as well as the need to encourage more traditional-aged students to enroll.  MWSU’s department of criminal justice has also begun to redesign its Juvenile Delinquency course after learning about the business redesign.

The redesign of Principles of Management at Northwest Missouri State University, using the Replacement Model, intends to decrease course drift and establish a consistent level of rigor and overall learning outcomes. The redesign will produce cost savings after full implementation by increasing section size from ~40 to 100 students, reducing the number of sections offered each year from eight to four and reducing the number of different instructors teaching the course from three to one. The team was rather disappointed in the outcomes of the pilot. One of the factors that may have influenced the results was the fact that the redesign section was taught at 8:00 am in the morning. The team believes that such timing might have had an impact on who enrolled in the redesign and who attended consistently. The team found that when students attended regularly, the average grade was 78%. When the attendance was not good, the average grade was 66%. Instructor evaluations were higher for the redesigned course. Issues to be addressed before the fall include room scheduling as well as establishing a way to monitor attendance that is not laborious for the faculty.

Using the Online Model, Truman State University is redesigning Health and Fitness, a required course for all students. The redesign features on-ground and online, self-guided and instructor-guided learning experiences that complement foundational personal health course content. Once the redesign is fully implemented, cost savings will result from reducing the number of course sections offered annually from 15 to two and decreasing faculty involvement in course instruction from seven to two people team-teaching the one large section offered each term. By reducing the number of sections, integrating online resources and assessments, and utilizing undergraduate learning assistants, the course will become more cost efficient. The team has experienced issues with technology and some faculty resistance. Student reactions indicated that they appreciated the flexibility regarding when they could work on their assignments, and some reported changing their exercise and stress management behavior, a good outcome for the redesign.

At the University of Central Missouri, the redesign of Human Anatomy will occur by separating Anatomy from Physiology, making two free-standing courses. Prior to the redesign, Anatomy and Physiology were combined in A&PI and A&PII. The redesign of Human Anatomy will use the Replacement Model. (Physiology will be redesigned after this initiative concludes.) To achieve cost savings, course enrollment will increase from 336 to 480, lab section size will increase from 25 to 40 and the number of lab sections will be reduced from 14 to 12 annually. The team did not conduct a pilot because of the timing issues in making the transition. However, during spring 2012, the team was busy preparing new labs, constructing and outfitting separate lab locations for the two new courses and organizing the content for the divided courses, removing duplication and re-working the assessments. The team also needed to assemble the baseline assessment data for Human Anatomy, which was a considerable task. In fall 2012, Human Anatomy will be taught to all students in the redesigned format.

The redesign of Intermediate Algebra at the University of Central Missouri (UCM), using the Emporium Model, substitutes lectures with online interactive software and on-demand help. The goals for the redesign include eliminating course drift and reducing DFW rates. To generate savings, section size will be increased from 35 to 70 students and reducing the number of sections offered annually from 20 to 10. The number of graduate teaching assistants needed in the course will decline from five to 2.5, and undergraduate learning assistants will be added to help staff the lab. Some of the challenges that the team faced during the pilot were the diverse backgrounds of students in the same section, issues with how email was handled and the difficulty providing partial credit when tests were completed online. Other challenges included the difficulty in getting students engaged. Some students had poor time-management skills and did not complete homework and quizzes prior to tests. Some students did not have internet access at home. The lab requirement for fall will decline from four hours to three, and the team is seeking ways to provide additional assistance to students who do not have sufficient backgrounds.

The redesign of College Algebra at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) is moving forward, using the Emporium Model, with two lab meetings of 75 minutes each and one 50-minute class meeting per week. The lab is complete and ready for full implementation in the fall term. The team speculates that substantial grade inflation occurred in the traditional course sections, and they know from prior terms that there was also significant course drift. Ending this course drift is one of the goals of the redesign project at UMKC. Cost savings will occur by increasing the number of students taught by each instructor. Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) and adjunct instructors will more than double their student load, from one section of 35-40 students to two sections of 50, without changing the number of total hours they dedicate to the course. The team identified the need for greater training of GTAs so that they are more familiar with the course objectives, approaches and are more assertive with students. In addition, they will acquire swiping technology for attendance recording and work on additional ways to introduce students to the course–possibly a video–which would help orient students, especially those who register late.

At the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the redesign of Information Systems uses the Replacement Model with one class meeting and a two-hour lab exercise each week. All class meetings are held in a computer classroom. After full implementation, all sections will be consolidated under one instructor assisted by a team of undergraduate and graduate students. The number of sections will decrease from 11 to two annually and section size will increase from 50 to ~150-200 students, producing substantial cost savings. The pilot uncovered some issues that need attention prior to full implementation in the fall. Although the team had good communication with advisors, there were some issues with how the course appeared on the schedule despite support from the registrar who complimented them on their innovation. A second issue was whether students understood what was required of them. Students seemed to “own” the course more, although some students were concerned they had to do more than “show up.” The team will also work on establishing greater buy-in in the department, developing grading rubrics for the assignments and establishing a more structured schedule for all personnel. During full implementation, the team will meet more frequently to be sure everyone is prepared and knowledgeable about what is happening.

To learn more about these Missouri projects, see http://www.theNCAT.org/States/MO/MO%20Project%20Descriptions.html.

University System of Maryland Expands Course Redesign Across the State

NCAT’s first system-wide course redesign initiative was in partnership with the University System of Maryland (USM), from 2006 through 2009. Based on the success of that initiative, USM has been engaged in course redesign ever since. The USM-NCAT partnership was launched by the USM Board of Regents and Chancellor Brit Kirwan.  Brit has become a strong advocate of course redesign in the state of Maryland and elsewhere. Today, the USM strategic plan includes a theme of academic transformation, including course redesign.

There are now three initiatives at USM that will continue to build redesign capability across the system. The first is a multi-year effort focused on institutions within the system. Twelve redesign teams will submit final reports in October 2012. An additional 12 teams will pilot their redesigns in fall 2012, and USM will recruit a third cohort beginning in August 2012. A second initiative, funded by Lumina Foundation for Education, is focused on developmental courses, primarily at community colleges in Maryland, and expects to produce 10 to 12 redesigns in each of two years. The third initiative, supported by a Complete College America grant to the Maryland Higher Education Commission, is modeled on the other USM programs with USM supporting the teams. The expectation is that ~15 redesigns will result. USM has appointed six Faculty Fellows, four of whom are also NCAT Redesign Scholars, to help provide guidance to new redesign teams. To learn more about USM’s initiatives contact Don Spicer at dspicer@usmd.edu or Nancy Shapiro at nshapiro@usmd.edu or visit http://www.usmd.edu/usm/academicaffairs/cr2/.

REDESIGN SCHOLARS PROGRAM

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

Course Redesign Goes to High School in Tennessee

Chattanooga State Community College and Cleveland State Community College in Tennessee recently received grants to work with local high schools as part of the America Diploma Project.  The project is introducing course redesign in a senior-year bridge math course. Students successfully completing the bridge math course in the fall are eligible for the colleges' dual enrollment programs in the spring. Students will gain a head start on their college careers as the progress they make will be banked at the local community college.  Results from a pilot at Red Bank High School indicated that approximately 75% of the students will be eligible to take a college-level math course in the spring and that more than 90% of the students will enter college math-ready.  Studies have shown that giving students a head start on their college career results in significantly higher enrollment rates, combined with a dramatic increase in retention and graduation. A similar program will be piloted in Jackson, TN in fall 2012. Betty Frost, an NCAT Redesign Scholar, will work with Jackson State Community College and local high schools.  To learn more, contact NCAT Redesign Scholars John Squires at John.Squires@ChattanoogaState.edu or Karen Wyrick at KWyrick@ClevelandStateCC.edu.

Scholars Continue to Provide Advice and Support on Course Redesign

Redesign Scholars continue to work with state-wide initiatives, individual institutions as well as departments within their own institution. They bring knowledge of how to get started on course redesign, the challenges that teams will face as well as the successes that can be achieved. Here are some examples of the ongoing assistance they are providing across the higher education community.

Betty Frost from Jackson State Community College and Karen Wyrick from Cleveland State Community College are serving as ongoing coaches and consultants for two projects focused on the redesign of developmental math across the state of Arkansas. The project is funded by Complete College America and the U.S. Department of Labor.  Betty is assigned to work with four baccalaureate institutions (North Arkansas College, University of Central Arkansas, Arkansas Tech University, and Southern Arkansas University) and Karen will be coaching five others (Arkansas State University (Jonesboro), University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Arkansas State University Beebe, Arkansas Northeastern College and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Betty and Karen are visiting campuses, making presentations to the group as a whole and providing ongoing assistance as these institutions seek to replicate the successful redesigns at the Tennessee institutions.  

In addition, Betty and Karen are working with community colleges as part of the Department of Labor grant. They have provided state-wide training as well as campus consulting. The state of Arkansas was divided into four regions for the project, which includes all community colleges in Arkansas.  Betty is working with North Arkansas (six institutions) and Southwest Arkansas (five institutions), and Karen is working with Arkansas Delta (five institutions) and Central Arkansas (six institutions).  Their responsibilities include facilitating faculty development on the content issues of implementing developmental math redesign, providing technical assistance on the NCAT model of course redesign, scheduling and executing at least one peer learning session per region per quarter, scheduling and executing at least one conference call per month for each region and providing individual redesign and implementation guidance to consortium members through email and phone calls. These are busy people!

Several Redesign Scholars have recently given invited conference presentations. Masoud Rais-Rohani from Mississippi State University gave a web-based presentation at the last Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Virtual Conference, Feb 13-14, 2012, titled “Engaging Students in New Ways of Learning: A Course Redesign Perspective.”  John Squires from Chattanooga State Community College has been working with the Education Commission of the States (ECS), assisting with a statewide workshop in Montana and speaking about course redesign in math at the ECS national forum in Atlanta, GA. He has also submitted a guest blog, “The Emporium Model: Fact and Fiction,” which will appear in July on ECS’s Getting Past Go website.  Dan Miller from Niagara County Community College gave a talk, “From Delivery to Assessment: Using Technology to Enhance Your Course” at the 16th Annual Northeast Consortium on Quantitative Literacy on April 14, 2012 at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.

In addition to statewide initiatives, scholars have worked with individual institutions, either through campus visits or telephone consultations. Tammy Muhs from the University of Central Florida (UCF) has worked with several institutions via phone and email (University of North Carolina Upstate and University of South Florida) and site visits including the University of Southern Maine, UNC Greensboro, University of South Alabama and Florida International University. Tammy has also been involved in continuing consultations about the highly successful UCF math redesign with the University of Northern Arizona and Oregon State University. Malcolm Hill from the University of Richmond has been working with Coastal Bend College in Beeville, TX to implement course redesign in their STEM (mostly biology) courses. He met with faculty and administrators and reviewed the program, courses and facilities during a site visit in April 2012. Sally Search from Tallahassee Community College continues to work with Amarillo College in their plans to redesign English and math; she will visit the campus again in September 2012. Bill Ganley from Buffalo State College has been advising the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas at Austin on the redesign of economics courses and the use of undergraduate learning assistants. Bill also published an article, “Revitalizing Economic Education,” in the New York State Economics Association 2012 online proceedings based on his presentation at their 2011 annual conference.

Redesign Scholars continue to assist their own institutions, helping other departments redesign their courses. Donna Seagle at Chattanooga State Community College has been appointed director of educational technology and design. Her responsibilities are to work with other departments and colleagues in course redesign. Bill Ganley from Buffalo State College has also worked with colleagues in chemistry to share the process and results of his economics course redesign. In addition, Bill and his departmental colleague, Dr. Ted Schmidt, have redesigned some sections of Principles of Economics into hybrid and fully online courses to provide options for students. The online version was available in summer 2012 to students throughout New York with undergraduate learning assistants serving as discussion forum facilitators.

NCAT plans to expand its Redesign Scholars Program. As Changing the Equation concludes later this year, we anticipate adding additional Scholars who are knowledgeable about redesigning developmental math and will be available to assist other higher education institutions seeking to replicate their success. Similarly, when the projects in the Missouri Course Redesign Initiative conclude in early in 2013, additional Redesign Scholars in multiple disciplines will be identified and invited to share their expertise. To learn more about the Redesign Scholars Program and how to apply, see mhttp://www.theNCAT.org/RedesignAlliance/ScholarsProgram.htm.

How to Measure the Effectiveness of Developmental Studies Programs

John Squires, an NCAT Redesign Scholar, and Dr. Anita Polk-Conley of Chattanooga State Community College recently co-authored a paper, “Data Drive Success: Defining a Metric for Developmental Studies.” The article was written for the American Association of Community Colleges and provides a metric by which colleges can easily gauge the effectiveness of their developmental programs. Using developmental math as an example, the article points out that most students never exit from developmental math. It also clearly specifies the benefits to a college that can be reaped by improving their developmental studies programs using course redesign and the Emporium Model.  For example, at Chattanooga State Community College after three years of math redesign, college-level math enrollment now exceeds developmental math enrollment by more than 500 students each semester.  Similarly, at Cleveland State Community College, college-level math enrollment has doubled and now exceeds developmental math enrollment.  The impact of these gains on retention and graduation are clear. This paper will be included in New Directions for Institutional Research: Data Use in the Community College, published by Jossey-Bass in spring 2012. For learn more, contact John Squires at John.Squires@ChattanoogaState.edu.

THE REDESIGN ALLIANCE

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

Cengage Learning is New NCAT Strategic Corporate Partner

Cengage Learning has been active in the Redesign Alliance from its earliest days and has recently renewed its relationship with NCAT as a Corporate Strategic Partner. NCAT will work with Cengage Learning to plan internal as well as external events focused on course redesign that improves student learning and reduces instructional costs using Cengage products and services. Internal events may include executive briefings and workshops for sales representatives or specific customer support groups. External events may include customers or potential customers who seek to learn more about the benefits of course redesign for their students and their institutions.  We welcome Cengage and look forward to working with them again. To learn more about becoming a Corporate Strategic Partner, contact Carolyn Jarmon at cjarmon@theNCAT.org.

Pearson To Hold September Course Redesign Conference

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

Penn Highlands Community College Holds Workshop on Course Redesign

On May 22, 2012, Carolyn Jarmon traveled to Johnstown, PA to conduct a workshop for Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, a $10,000 member of the Redesign Alliance. First accredited in 2002, Penn Highlands is a new college with two locations that serve an area of Pennsylvania with a high unemployment rate and low per capita income. Penn Highlands has been awarded a Title III grant to strengthen the college by improving retention and graduation. As part of the grant, Penn Highlands plans to redesign their core curriculum, which will involve almost all of the 23 full-time faculty as well as a number of adjuncts for larger courses. While visiting Penn Highlands, Carolyn conducted a full-day workshop for faculty to introduce them to course redesign, to share successful redesign examples in multiple disciplines and to help them begin to think through how to proceed in their planning. Carolyn also had conversations with key administrators about how to support the effort and the importance of following up with newly formed redesign teams. To learn more about this initiative, contact Erica Reighard at EReighard@pennhighlands.edu.

COMMON GROUND

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

Closing Low-Income, Race and Gender Achievement Gaps in Developmental Math

Chattanooga State Community College was one of 29 Wave I winners in the Gates-funded Next Generation Learning Challenge program, partnering with Jefferson Community Technical College and the University of Hawaii Maui College to redesign developmental math courses at the three colleges. The Education Trust is also a partner in the project. As part of the project, the performance of low-income students in developmental math at Chattanooga State was compared with that of all students in the areas of successful course completion, accelerated learning and fall-to-spring retention. The data revealed that the income success achievement gap had been eliminated as low-income students performed at nearly identical rates in all three categories. This is not the first time that a college in Tennessee has seen achievement gaps close. Cleveland State Community College, where John Squires led the Do the Math program, saw both race and gender achievement gaps close as a result of the math redesign.  For more information on the Do the Math project go to http://www.edtrust.org/issues/higher-education/do-the-math. To learn more, contact John Squires at John.Squires@ChattanoogaState.edu.

Liberty University Redesigns Developmental Math

Liberty University (LU) in Virginia has adopted the Emporium Model and redesigned two developmental math courses, Beginning Algebra and Intermediate Algebra. After attending an NCAT math workshop at the University of Central Florida in February, 2011, the team from LU visited Cleveland State Community College, Louisiana State University, the University of Alabama and Virginia Tech to see the Emporium Model in action. LU decided to skip doing a pilot and fully implemented their redesign in spring 2012 with 970 students.  A new math lab includes 250 computers, long tables for students who own their computers and three faculty offices. Students are required to spend three hours each week in the lab and meet for one scheduled hour as a class. LU uses one customized, online text for both courses.

In the traditional format, LU had a pass rate of about 50%. In the first term of the redesign, completion rates rose to 56% in Elementary Algebra and 60% in Intermediate Algebra. Students appreciated the flexibility of the new format, the option to take tests early and the immediate feedback they received. Four students completed two courses in one term; four students finished one course and started the second course, completing part of it, in one term; and, 38 students completed a course early but did not start another one.

The redesign also produced cost savings by reducing the number of instructors who taught the course. The traditional course was taught by seven full-time faculty members and 14 adjuncts. After the redesign, six full-time faculty taught these courses, and no adjuncts were needed. In fall 2012, LU will also offer Statistics, Math for Liberal Arts and College Algebra in the redesigned format. To learn more, contact Kathy Spradlin at kspradlin@liberty.edu.

Monroe County Community College Redesigns Developmental Math Using Netbooks

A team from Monroe County Community College (MCCC) in Michigan attended the March 2010 Redesign Alliance Fourth Annual Conference in Orlando where they learned much about implementing a redesign. MCCC has since fully implemented a redesign of their three developmental mathematics courses: Basic Mathematics Skills, Beginning Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra. Rather than building computer labs to facilitate the Emporium Model, MCCC issued netbook computers to students which they use with instructional software via the wireless network in ordinary classrooms. Thus, all students are always in a lab setting when they are in class. The class structure is unchanged; students still meet for two hours twice a week in a classroom. There is, however, no lecture; faculty work with students individually or in pairs to answer questions and provide on-demand assistance.

The results to date are quite positive. For example, in winter quarter 2012, about 60% of students in Intermediate algebra received a grade of A or B compared with the less than 50% who succeeded with a C or better in the traditional format. MCCC provides strong incentives for students to come to class; if a student misses six out of 30 classes, they fail.  However, if they persist and complete lessons and modules, they can pick up where they left off in the following term rather than start over. If students complete two courses in one term, they are only charged for one. Faculty continue to work on a number of issues that they have identified. As in other developmental math redesigns, the greatest challenge is to get the student to come to class. Faculty are committed to the new format and to working with students to understand its benefits. To learn more, contact Vinnie Maltese at vmaltese@monroeccc.edu.

Federal Education Budget Project Updated

The New America Foundation's Federal Education Budget Project  has recently updated its education funding database, http://febp.newamerica.net/. The update includes the most recent data available for virtually all of the nation's higher education institutions.  Updated higher education data for the 2010 school year include:  

  • Price of attendance by institution;
  • Spending on federal aid programs and number of recipients, including Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, Perkins Loans, Work Study, and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, by state and institution;
  • Average federal, state, local, and institutional grant and loan aid per student as well as percent of students receiving such aid by state and institution;
  • Enrollment by institution and state, including demographic breakdown by race/ethnicity and gender;
  • Student outcomes, including graduation and retention rates, federal student loan default rates and trial three-year cohort default rates, and federal student loan repayment rates by state and institution, where appropriate; and
  • Net price by institution for students from families who make $30,000 annually or less.

The website enables users to view and download education data profiles for states, school districts, and institutions of higher education. Users can conduct custom comparisons of similar states, districts, and institutions to better understand how federal funding, student outcomes, and student demographics vary and interact across the nation. These dynamic comparisons can be used to answer a number of education policy questions. The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.

Institute for Higher Education Policy Develops Classification System for For-Profit Institutions

Are all for-profit institutions of higher education the same?  A new classification system developed by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) would argue that they are not. Published in June 2012, the report, “A New Classification Scheme for For-Profit Institutions,” proposes a framework within which outcomes, policy interventions, and/or program supports can be better targeted.  This classification includes criteria that are different than those used in systems for non-profit institutions and moves beyond institutional characteristics to look at contextual factors. The framework includes three levels based on the following criteria: (1) Market-Level Dimension: Measures the growth of for-profit institutions in selected educational markets; (2) Institutional-Level Dimension: Captures the institutional orientation, or niche, of for-profits; and (3) Individual-Level Dimension: Focuses on the enrollment behavior of students attending for-profits. According to IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, "With the for-profit sector being the fastest growing sector in higher education, it is critically important that everyone has an accurate framework to compare these institutions—among themselves as well as with all nonprofit institutions—particularly as it relates to a variety of postsecondary outcomes such as quality, affordability, and competition.” This new multi-faceted framework is designed to help address these challenges. To read the entire report, see http://www.ihep.org/Publications/publications-detail.cfm?id=154.

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