View Site Map

The Learning MarketSpace, October 2008

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.



  • But What About the English Department?









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

But What About the English Department?

Much of NCAT’s current work involves conducting workshops in course redesign as part of our collaborative programs with states and systems of higher education. A big part of what we do in those workshops is to offer ideas and examples of best practices in course redesign to stimulate the interest and imagination of the participants who will likely engage in a redesign of their own.

During the discussion period of a recent workshop in Mississippi, a young faculty member stood up and said something to this effect. “I can understand how instructional technology can work in fields like math. It’s easy to see how the computer can grade problems, giving students immediate feedback while reducing faculty workload. But what about the English department? I don’t see how technology can be useful in the so-called soft disciplines in the same ways.”

This is a question near and dear to my heart. In a former life, I taught English composition and, like most
writing instructors, spent a lot of time reading and grading student papers—a lot of time! Some estimate that writing instructors spend two-thirds of the time they devote to a course reading and grading students’ papers. So I well understand the need for finding ways for technology to alleviate the labor-intensive aspect of teaching writing-intensive courses. I also understand the skepticism that questions whether it is indeed possible.

Finding ways to make the grading of writing narratives less time-consuming for instructors is an important
topic, both in the world of course redesign and in higher education at large. Throughout higher education,
writing instructors, under the strain of teaching large numbers of students, are forced to cut corners and make compromises. Some instructors give fewer assignments or shorter ones in an attempt to reduce the grading load. Others adopt a strategy of marking up only the first page and asking students to follow their guidance in revising the remaining pages. Still others sample papers for grading, choosing a small number of papers per class to receive marginal comments. As a consequence, students and their writing skills suffer from lack of practice and lack of feedback. At the same time, faculty interest in course redesign can be stymied if instructors do not or cannot see solutions that address their discipline-specific problems.

My response to that Mississippi faculty member was to describe a number of strategies that immediately
came to mind. They can be roughly grouped into three areas: divide-and-conquer, division-of-labor and really-smart-software.

Divide and Conquer

The first strategy commonly used in writing-intensive course redesigns is to begin by analyzing all tasks associated with teaching the course and ask, which can be best accomplished online and which can best be accomplished face-to-face, which can be replaced by technology and which require an instructor? Analyzing
the various components of the writing process and identifying those that precede and support the production
of final essays (diagnostics, grammar, mechanics, reading comprehension, basic research skills, and so on) enable course redesigners to offload those tasks to the technology. The redesign of English composition at Tallahassee Community College (TCC) exemplifies this approach.

TCC’s redesign has two major components. The first component involves shifting to technology many basic instructional activities that can be readily individualized. A course web site offers students a menu of common assignments; diagnostic assessments resulting in individualized learning plans; interactive tutorials in grammar, mechanics, reading comprehension, and basic research skills; follow-up assessments; and, discussion boards to facilitate the development of learning communities. The second component involves restructuring the classroom environment to include a wide range of learner-centered writing activities that foster collaboration, proficiency and higher levels of thinking. Students work in small groups or on individual writing efforts, depending on their identified needs. A final common essay assignment ensures that program and course standards are met and provides consistency across sections.

Using the course web site reduces the amount of time faculty spend in diagnostics, preparation of lectures, grammar instruction, monitoring progress, grading, making class announcements and responding to class issues. During the initial redesign semester, faculty logs indicated a 33% decrease in time spent on course activities associated with the preceding tasks.

When TCC initiated its redesign plan in 2001, the team needed to piece together a number of disparate resources on its course web site. Today, most of the major higher education publishers offer integrated, interactive software that provides modularized course content to support the writing process. A common
starting point of all is to administer a diagnostic test that comprehensively assesses student skills. Students
are given an individualized learning plan based on the diagnostic's results, identifying the modules in areas where they most need help. A tracking mechanism allows instructors to differentiate grammar instruction as
well as monitor student progress as they work through the lessons. As students complete the units, end-of-module tests are used to assess student learning. Mastery is the goal, so students have multiple opportunities to successfully complete fully automated assessment tests. Students can work at home, in labs and during class time.

Different institutions “divide and conquer” in different ways. Some (those that are most successful) move 50% or more of student activity online and take full advantage of the software’s capabilities. Others (those that are less successful) utilize the software primarily as an adjunct to ordinary class activities, lessening both the impact on student achievement and the possibility of reducing faculty time.

Division of Labor

A second strategy is to take a look at all of the tasks associated with teaching the course and allocate some of them to personnel other than the primary instructor. Such tasks include reacting to initial drafts (but leaving the review of final papers to instructors), grading some kinds of essays (but leaving others to instructors) and grading all essays (but leaving direct interaction with students to instructors.) Here are some examples of how different institutions have implemented this strategy in different ways:

  • At TCC, students are able to submit mid-stage drafts to online tutors at SMARTHINKING, a commercial, online tutoring service, reducing the burden on TCC’s Writing Center and the amount of time faculty spend grading papers. These 24x7 services provide students with prompt, constructive feedback on writing assignments. Students receive personal, one-to-one attention. Tutors reply to student submissions within 24 hours with multi-paged, detailed responses specifically tailored to each student’s stated priorities. Over 90% of tutors have Masters and/or PhD’s in their subject areas. SMARTHINKING tutors, who average 9.5 years of teaching experience, receive extensive online tutor training. The fast feedback and online assistance allow students to make appropriate changes and improve the quality of student writing. Students are required to attach the comments of the tutor to their papers when they submit them for final assessment. This encourages the students to pay careful attention to the responses and subsequent revisions. During class, instructors provide individual assistance to students, focusing on the needs of each student and supporting a diversity of learning styles: This opportunity for student/faculty interaction is a major contributor to the improved quality of student learning at TCC. The use of SMARTHINKING saves faculty time. Not only do faculty members not have to assess mid-stage drafts, but also the improved quality of the papers submitted for final review and assessment reduces the amount of time faculty members spend in grading.
  • The explicit goals of the redesign of Understanding Visual and Performing Arts, a required fine arts course at Florida Gulf Coast University 's (FGCU), were to accommodate enrollment growth and
    achieve greater coherence and consistency. Prior to the redesign, the course was taught in sections
    of 30 students each. The redesign moved all students into a single online section, using a common syllabus, textbook, set of assignments and a course web site, organized in six modules, each
    designed by faculty experts. The redesign off-loads many labor-intensive activities, such as presenting content information and grading exams and papers, to technology. In addition, FGCU uses a new staffing model. Students are now placed into cohort groups of 60 and within them, peer-learning teams of six students each. A single full-time faculty member (responsible for academic matters and for preceptor supervision) teaches the course, working closely with a full-time course coordinator (responsible for administrative aspects) and a group of preceptors, most of whom have a B.A. in English. As part of the course requirements, students must attend two arts activities in the community to get material for two Critical Analysis essays, which are graded by the preceptors. Preceptors are also responsible for interacting with students and monitoring student progress. The model allows FGCU to scale by adding preceptors while maintaining important faculty oversight via ongoing curricular review and course coordination.
  • Changes in approaches to grading essays come in many forms. As reported in the March 10, 2006 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Texas Tech University (TTU) is changing the way English composition is staffed and how essays are evaluated. In most composition courses in higher
    education, instructors and graduate assistants teach all sections and grade all student essays. However, at TTU, TOPIC (Texas Tech Online-Print Integrated Curriculum) includes two kinds of instructors: classroom instructors and document instructors. The first group meets once a week with students where they work on grammar, punctuation and other important aspects of the writing process. Students then submit their written essays to document instructors. Each submission is read by two different document instructors and graded based on a rubric that ensures consistency in evaluation. The time students spend in class has been reduced by 50%, yet the students are writing more and receiving feedback more quickly. Consistency in grading has greatly increased the quality of the composition course.

Really Smart Software

Perhaps the most promising new strategy is the use of artificial intelligence-based, essay-grading software. Faculty have long known that students improve their writing skills by writing frequently and receiving immediate targeted feedback. This is true in English composition courses as well as in all kinds of writing-intensive courses. Once again, the labor intensity of grading student papers frequently constricts the number that is assigned. If full essays can be graded by software, clearly more assignments can be made. The choice of how to use the grading software is, of course, up to the instructor. Some use the software to review any number of drafts; others use it for final papers.

A key component of the fine arts redesign at FGCU when it was originally offered was its use of the Intelligent Essay Assessor (IEA), a computer program designed to grade short, well-structured essays. Students were asked to critique a painting or other image of a work of art in short essays, which were then evaluated by the
IEA. The IEA, once programmed, assesses 100-500-word student essays based on content, grammar, punctuation, mechanics and spelling. In order to program the IEA, the FGCU team entered a digitized version of the textbook and 200 essays scored holistically by the redesign team. Once programmed, the software was able to grade the short essays and provide a score. Note that the IEA provides a score rather than specific feedback.

The primary issue the team faced in using the IEA was demonstrating a high level of inter-rater reliability.
The team was able to demonstrate an inter-rater reliability rate using the IEA that exceeds that of two faculty readers. For the holistic scoring process, they read a total of 803 essays that were then fed into the IEA for programming; 435 of those essays were given the same score on the first two reads, a 54% inter-rater
reliability. Of the 803 total essays that were read in the holistic scoring process, 497 were given the same
score by the IEA as that given by humans, a 62% inter-rater reliability for instructor grading. The team then
went back and reread the 309 essays that were given a different score. Of those essays, the team changed
151 scores that brought them in line with the IEA score, producing a final IEA-human inter-rater reliability of
81%. Using the IEA meant that faculty grading time for this part of the course fell to zero, grading consistency
was much greater, and evaluations are returned to students more quickly.

I mention the inter-rater reliability issue because in many ways it captures the man vs. machine argument frequently raised by software skeptics. Best practice in scoring or grading writing samples establishes a
rubric to ensure consistency for all students. Agreeing on the rubric and testing it by comparing multiple
readers’ scores is part of the quality control process, which can be quite time consuming to get it right.
Human inter-rater reliability is difficult to achieve, and in most composition courses is never sought. Because all “smart” essay-grading software products need to be “trained,” establishing human-software inter-rater reliability is an important check that ensures that the scores produced by the software meet human standards. This, in turn, should give the faculty confidence that the software is doing as good a job as they do on specific categories. FGCU reached a human-software inter-rater reliability of 81%; Criterion from ETS described below provides a 92% rate. In practice, software scoring is more consistent than human graders. Plus the computer never gets tired!

Criterion is a web-based service developed by the Educational Testing Service to evaluate students’ writing skills and provide instant score reporting and diagnostic feedback to both students and instructors. Students draft and submit essays and receive immediate feedback in the form of a holistic score and annotated
feedback in five categories: grammar, mechanics, usage, style, and organization and development. Using Criterion encourages students to complete multiple revisions based on the automated feedback as well as instructor-generated feedback. A split-screen feature allows students to see feedback while revising their essays.

Criterion does not “read” essays in the way a human reader does in regard to content, but much of teaching writing is not content per se but rather improving student competence in the five categories that Criterion addresses. Most writing instructors, and most faculty, would love to read student essays for content rather
than for grammar and mechanics, but as we all know, grammar and mechanics get in the way of content. I
well remember from my essay-grading days the multiple comments in red ink strewn throughout each
student’s paper. There is a clear difference between noting “sentence fragment” or “subject/verb agreement” (which took up an inordinate amount of time) and “this doesn’t make sense.” Why not let the software do the former so that you can focus on the latter?

How Can We Afford All of These Good Ideas?

It seems to me that the best scenario would be to use all of the strategies discussed above, but the question naturally arises, how can we pay for new services like Criterion and SMARTHINKING? Without redesigning the whole course, most institutions are only able to implement these good ideas in a piecemeal fashion and, therefore, fail to receive the full benefit of each of them. Redesigning the whole course and including cost reduction goals as part of the redesign enables institutions to pay for what are clearly beneficial pedagogical approaches. Let’s use TCC and FGCU as examples of how their redesigns also produced savings.

In its redesign of Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts, FGCU reduced the number of sections
from 31 to 2 and increased the number of students served in the first year of the redesign from 800 to 950.
Previously, full-time faculty taught 20% of the course, and adjuncts taught 80%. In the redesign, FGCU
eliminated adjuncts completely; the course is now taught 100% by full-time faculty supported by preceptors. Each preceptor works with 10 peer learning teams or a total of 60 students. Replacing adjuncts independently teaching small sections ($2,200 per 30-student section) with preceptors assigned a small set of specific responsibilities ($1,800 per 60-student cohort) in the context of a consistent, faculty-designed course structure has allowed FCGU to accommodate ongoing enrollment growth while steadily reducing its cost-per-student. The cost-per-student in the traditional course enrolling 800 students was $132. The cost-per-student in the redesign enrolling 950 students was $81 and $70 when 1200 students enrolled in the second year of full implementation. The projected cost-per-student for 2400 students is $50. As course enrollment grows, the only additional cost is that of increasing the number of preceptors. The cost of the course coordinator and the faculty remain unchanged. Thus, the cost-per-student will continue to go down.

TCC reduced the number of full-time faculty involved in teaching its English composition course from 32 to 8
and substituted less expensive adjunct faculty without sacrificing quality and consistency. In the traditional course, full-time faculty taught 70% of the course, and adjuncts taught 30%. In the redesigned course, full-time faculty teach 33% of the course, and adjuncts teach 67%. Full-time faculty were freed to teach second-level courses where finding adjuncts is much more difficult. By making these changes, TCC reduced the cost-per-student by 43% and produced an annual dollar savings of $321,000.

Why Not Try It?

I hope you will conclude from this discussion that using software and other redesign strategies offers plenty
of options for the English department and other writing-intensive disciplines. I know that faculty members are highly skeptical when it comes to using essay-grading software. At NCAT’s public seminars and workshops,
the FGCU project leader always engenders the most heated comments when he describes the IEA. But we know from the experience of many users that these approaches and techniques can work well and benefit
both students and instructors. To paraphrase the words of John Lennon, all we are saying is, why not give writing software a chance?

--Carol A. Twigg

What's New

Featuring updates and announcements from the Center.

New Emporium Model FAQ

We want to call your attention to a new addition to the NCAT web site: an FAQ on “How to Structure a Math Emporium” that provides answers to commonly asked questions about how to structure math courses
using the Emporium Model. This FAQ joins the Course Redesign Planning Resources section of our web site, specifically as part of what we call the Good Advice section.

Successfully implementing a math emporium is a challenging undertaking. The Emporium Model
eliminates most or all class meetings and replaces them with a learning resource center featuring online materials and on-demand personalized assistance. Initially developed at Virginia Tech, the model has been successfully implemented and refined at a growing number of institutions such as Louisiana State University (LSU), the University of Alabama, the University of Idaho (UI) and the University of Missouri–St. Louis, to name a few. Because this model has proven to be extremely successful, project leaders have been bombarded with requests for information from campuses across the country. We thought it would make sense to capture the pedagogical and practical knowledge from successful projects in an FAQ.

In collaboration with two NCAT Scholars, Phoebe Rouse from LSU and Kirk Trigsted from UI, NCAT has
posted answers to questions frequently asked as project teams undertake the challenge of implementing a math emporium. The FAQ provides information on such topics as training faculty and peer tutors, scheduling students and computer ratios. The FAQ also alerts teams designing new emporia to issues they need to address in their plans and potential pitfalls they need to avoid. If you find that one of your questions is not answered, let us know and we will add it to the FAQ. The FAQ can be found at

Redesigns Abound: Need A Scorecard?

Now that the number of large-scale course redesigns that NCAT has worked with exceeds 100, all of which
are described on our web site, we frequently get questions about both the status of the projects (in a planning stage, in a pilot stage, fully implemented) and their degree of success. Project descriptions are first sorted by discipline and linked to The projects sort to 54 quantitative, 25 natural science, 24 social science, 26 humanities and 9 professional studies. (They are also sorted by redesign model at

We have now added a key for each project description to indicate its status as well as a description of what information is included for the project. All projects listed--whether completed, in progress or not completed--include an abstract of the full project plan and project leader contact information so that you can talk directly to those project leaders that interest you. Completed projects include a final report with a summary of those techniques and approaches that were particularly useful in meeting the joint goals of increasing student
learning and decreasing instructional costs.

We define completed projects as those that have implemented their redesign in all sections of the
redesigned course. Currently, these include completed projects that were part of the seminal Program in
Course Redesign or the Roadmap to Redesign program. Incomplete projects include those that are in a planning or a pilot stage as well as those that have not been completed due to a variety of factors. As projects in a planning or pilot stage move to full implementation, we will change the key accordingly.

Potential course redesigners also want to know which projects we consider fully successful, those that can serve as models of best practice in course redesign. At, NCAT has classified those projects beyond a planning stage into three categories: fully successful, partially successful and incomplete. Each fully successful project is characterized by having achieved improved
student learning and reduced instructional cost, and each is committed to the ongoing implementation of the course redesign. While demonstrating the principles of improved learning and reduced costs, the partially successful projects did not complete a full implementation for a variety of reasons. The specific reasons for
each project’s partial success are provided as part of the project description. For example, NCAT’s Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) program requires an institution to conduct only a pilot. For those projects, we report the outcome of their pilot as well as their intention to move to full implementation, which the great majority intend to do. The incomplete projects did not complete their projects or did not report their status to NCAT due to a variety of factors, all of which are identified in the project description. We include the project plans for these projects even though they were not completed because we believe strongly that each plan serves as a good example of how to think about redesigning a large-enrollment course.

Please let us know if these sorts are helpful and if you would like us to add more information to our web site.
Our goal is to provide the information you need to be successful!

English Peer Wiki Compares NCAT’s Program in Course Redesign with Two UK Initiatives

As most of you already know, using Wikis is a contemporary method of bringing people together to comment
and discuss an idea or set of concepts asynchronously. Undoubtedly many of you participate in wikis regularly, and some of you use this method of exchange in your courses. Launched by Derek Morrison in May 2008, the Peer Commentary Wiki (Higher Education) is intended to act as a place where invited guests can make extensive comments on previously published papers and postings. To start the ball rolling, the first article chosen is “You take the high road: National Programmes for the Development of e-Learning in Higher Education” by Terry Mayes and Derek Morrison published in Reflecting Education, Vol 4, No 1 (2008), 6-16.

This paper considers how NCAT’s Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign, which demonstrated both
improved learning and reduced costs through the introduction of technology enhancements, influenced two national UK initiatives. One is the English Benchmarking and Pathfinder programme, still ongoing, in which
£8M has been distributed widely across over 70 institutions, and the other is the £6M Scottish e-learning transformation programme, involving six large-scale collaborative projects. The central question addressed by the paper is the effect of national initiatives in e-learning within the higher education sector. All three programs have comparable scale. Fourteen invited guests, including Carol Twigg, comment on the article, providing insight regarding both the article’s conclusions and the three programs that are discussed. To read the full article and the commentary, see


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

Mississippi Course Redesign Initiative Announces Second Wave of Grantees

In our last issue, we announced the grant recipients for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Course Redesign Initiative. Subsequently, a number of teams whose proposals were not originally funded
were given the opportunity to revise and improve their plans in consultation with NCAT. Teams worked throughout summer 2008 to refine and strengthen their original plans. The result was that four additional projects were funded in August: Delta State University (College Algebra), Mississippi State University (Statistics), Mississippi University for Women (Intermediate and College Algebra) and Mississippi Valley
University (Intermediate Algebra), bringing the total number of projects participating in the IHL initiative
to 16. Abstracts for these and the other IHL projects are available at For more information about the IHL initiative, contact Alfred Rankins at

Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Redesign Projects Prepare for Spring 2009 Pilots

Earlier this summer, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) awarded grants to 16 excellent redesign projects as part of the Mississippi Course Redesign Initiative. The teams are in the midst of
planning for pilot implementations in spring 2009; full implementation will occur in fall 2009. Teams from
many of these projects will give full reports at the Redesign Alliance Conference in March 2009 described
below. Full abstracts describing these projects are available at What follows are progress reports from the projects.

At Jackson State University, the spring 2009 pilot sections of Intermediate and College Algebra have been identified and scheduled as have the instructors who will be conducting the pilot sections. The team has
made contact with companies such as AccuTrack and Scantron. Work in the two labs that will be used in the redesign has also occurred, and the labs currently are working at approximately 90% capacity. Training of the graduate and undergraduate students who will be involved in the redesign will begin soon. To learn more, contact Tor Kwembe at

Course redesigns in two biology courses, Plants and Humans and Animal Biology, are underway at
Mississippi State University
(MSU). During summer 2008, the lecture portion of Plants and Humans was organized into four modules: Scientific Basics, The Organism, Organismal Mechanics and Applications, and Global Impacts. The lecture portion of Animal Biology was also organized into four modules: Molecules to Tissues, Organ Systems, Genes and Biotechnology, and Environmental Impacts. Within each module, key concepts were identified that will be emphasized through application-based learning in the redesign. Ongoing activities include working with a publisher (Kendall/Hunt) who has agreed to partner with the team for the Plants and Humans course. This company will assist in creating a custom manual to accompany the redesigned course and provide media-rich learning materials to be used through MSU’s course management system. For Animal Biology, the team is reviewing virtual lab exercises from various companies with the goal of making a final selection of a publishing partner by the end of October. To learn more, contact Nancy Reichert at

An important part of the redesign of Survey of Chemistry I at Mississippi State University (MSU) is the use of the web site Chem21Labs, developed by Dr. Eddie Brown from Lee University in Cleveland, TN. Chem21Labs includes an automated homework system, which provides students with immediate feedback and lets them know when they master a particular topic and are ready to move on to the next topic. Dr. Brown has visited MSU once to give a demonstration of the software, and one of the MSU team members attended two Chem21Labs workshops in Cleveland during summer 2008. Preparation for the pilot section that will be offered in spring 2009 is underway. The team is preparing a set of five-to-ten-minute modules that will be available online with the goal of creating one module for every important topic in the course. The team is using Camtasia Studio to develop narrated and annotated PowerPoint lectures, which will be delivered through Blackboard Vista. The team also recently purchased Adobe Creative Suite 3 and is currently exploring the capabilities of this program. To learn more, contact Svein Saebo at

Mississippi State University is in the process of redesigning Introduction to Statistics, which is currently taught as a three-hour lecture course in seven sections of 45 students each per semester. Under the redesign, the course will be offered in two 200-seat sections each meeting for a one-hour lecture given by the course instructor and a one-hour smaller recitation section overseen by second-year graduate teaching assistants under the supervision of the instructor. Additionally, students will be required to spend at least two hours in the Math Domain, a 130-seat computer lab, where they will complete tests, quizzes and lab assignments, in addition to having the opportunity to complete homework and receive one-on-one assistance from tutors. During summer 2008, the redesign team finalized its project plan in consultation with NCAT and began to develop plans for the spring 2009 pilot implementation. During fall 2008, the team will develop course lecture notes; update the common syllabus; determine grading policy; develop online homework, quizzes, and tests; and, complete the required steps at the university level to alter the course’s curriculum and format. The redesign of Introduction to Statistics will increase course capacity, ensure course consistency, encourage active learning and participation and reduce the cost-per-student. To learn more, contact Mohsen Razzaghi at

The Mississippi State University team redesigning Statics, an engineering mechanics course enrolling ~350 students annually, has made great progress. The redesign will use the Emporium Model. The physical space for the emporium has been allocated, and the team hopes to have everything in place by November 2008. Furniture and equipment have been ordered. The team is planning information sessions for students who registered for Statics in spring 2009 (both the pilot and traditional sections) and for undergraduate coordinators and faculty from involved departments. The technical team has been reviewing available educational materials, and two team members will attend a workshop sponsored by one of the materials suppliers. To learn more, contact Anthony Vizzini at

Mississippi University for Women (MUW) is redesigning College Algebra and Intermediate Algebra. Summer 2008 was a time of planning consisting of departmental discussions, contacts with successful course redesign project leaders at other institutions and with the NCAT staff. College Algebra and Intermediate Algebra will be structured in the same way with one 75-minute classroom session, one scheduled 75-minute mathematics laboratory session and a minimum of an additional 90 minutes in the mathematics laboratory working with the instructional software. At present, the redesign team is meeting with administrators about the physical space on campus which will become the mathematics laboratory and issues related to furniture and equipment. On the instructional side, the team has invited representatives from Hawkes Learning Systems to come to campus to give a software demonstration. The team plans to assess student learning by comparing performance on a common final exam, with the baseline data being gathered during fall 2008. The common final is being created and reviewed by math faculty members. The team has a busy fall semester ahead in order to be ready for the pilot phase to start in January 2009. To learn more, contact Dorothy Kerzel at

Mississippi Valley State University will pilot three redesigned sections of Intermediate Algebra in spring
2009 taught by two instructors. Each section will have up to 60 students. Students will be required to spend
three hours in a computer-based math lab each week including the time they are regularly scheduled for
class, and the instructor and students will meet in class once a week. The course coordinator has completed the course syllabus, which includes the content and timeline for teaching the material, and has selected the Hawkes Learning Systems software. She has established a tentative lab-hour schedule for the instructors, undergraduate tutors and the professional staff. The computer lab, which will seat 50 students, is currently being set up and should be ready for the spring 2009 semester. To learn more, contact Latonya Garner at

The mathematics department at the University of Mississippi (UM) is hard at work on its redesign of Business Calculus. Throughout the summer and during the fall 2008 semester, the team has been working closely with Hawkes Learning Systems to extend the breadth of the problems implemented in their new software. The team intends to introduce pilot sections of about 100 students in spring 2009, which mimic the Replacement Model format that has been so successful in other redesigned math courses at UM. To learn more, contact Tristan Denley at

Planning for the spring 2009 pilot of the redesign of General Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi is going smoothly and according to plan. Over the past few months, the team has secured classrooms and computer laboratories for the spring 2009 roll-out. The university is in the final days of its student advisement period, and more than 130 students have already enrolled in the redesigned course.
The team is currently identifying and interviewing the undergraduate peer tutors for the laboratory sections. By November, a training schedule for the tutors and identified participating graduate students will be established. The team chair has been meeting bi-weekly with Cengage publishing representatives to design the interactive web site that is an essential element of the redesign; completion is expected in early December 2008. The team is compiling syllabus information from faculty who currently teach the course to establish the desired consistency and developing test questions to assess the effectiveness of the pilot. The team has also begun to develop the podcasts that will be a part of the proposed redesign. The project’s efforts were recently recognized in a front-page article in the local newspaper. See
. To learn more, contact David Echevarria at

During fall 2008, the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) math redesign team is continuing the partial redesign of Intermediate Algebra that was initiated in spring 2007. Currently there are five sections using the Emporium Model and MyMathLab as the primary instructional resource. Students are required to spend three hours in the lab each week and one hour in lecture. For comparative purposes, USM is also offering two traditional sections with five hours of lecture using MyMathLab as a homework system only. The lab is
available, but not required, for students in the traditional sections. In preparation for the spring 2009 pilot
when all sections of Intermediate Algebra will use the Emporium Model, the team is updating the MyMathLab materials to correspond to a new edition of the textbook and to changes in topic emphasis suggested by the partial redesign currently under way. During full implementation, the Mathematics Learning Center will more
than double in size from 66 to 150 computer stations. Bids are currently being taken for remodeling the space to house the new lab; completion is expected by summer 2009. To learn more, contact Barry Piazza at

The project to redesign Introduction to Computing at the University of Southern Mississippi is on track. The focus is on preparing for the spring 2009 pilot. Institutional approvals were obtained during the summer, and
the space that will house the redesign lab was identified. The work order for modifying the space has been approved, with plans for the modification to begin soon and to be completed quickly. As the facility modification approaches completion, lab equipment and furniture for the lab will be ordered so that lab setup and installation of hardware and software can occur. Pilot and traditional sections of Introduction to Computing have been placed on the university’s course scheduling system with a goal of “balancing” enrollment to ensure that the pilot section includes at least 100 students. Course configuration in Blackboard is in process, and the team is creating weekly project assignments and low-stakes quizzes with automated grading. Various Blackboard configuration options are being explored to determine the ones that best fit delivery of this redesigned course. To learn more, contact Nancy Howell at

The team redesigning Nutrition and Food Systems at the University of Southern Mississippi has been
working on transcripted lesson plans for text chapters. The three instructors have learned to use Camtasia to create voice-over PowerPoint slides on a DVD as a resource for students who would like a detailed lecture. Based on training they received about Americans with Disabilities Act compliance in an online environment, the team has also transcripted the online lectures before recording them for hearing-impaired
and visually-impaired students. The team has collected all content requirements for the eight programs that
rely on the course to meet accreditation standards and made sure the redesigned course meets those requirements. The team is working with Cengage to develop a courseware tool which students will access through Blackboard. Students will complete a pre-test leading to an individualized learning plan for
each of the text chapters. Cengage is also incorporating the instructor’s manual that includes specific
learning objectives for each chapter and multiple active-learning exercises related to the chapter content.
All learning activities are included at this point; during the next few weeks, the team will select the specific
ones that will be used. The team has also successfully loaded the publisher’s entire test bank into
Blackboard; the next step is to identify common exam questions that all sections of the course will use to
collect comparison data and decide on one common final exam for all traditional and redesigned sections
or a common sub-set of 50% of exam questions. The tentative schedule for spring 2009 semester is in place, and the chapter assignments for each instructor are complete. To learn more, contact Denise Brown at

In August 2008, the University of Southern Mississippi had two new faculty join the Spanish department. Specialists in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, these new faculty bring
great expertise to the redesign of First-Year Spanish and are eager to work on the redesign project. The team set up workshops with five different publishers to select a textbook and supporting software.  Ultimately, the
team chose to work with Wiley Publishers, using their text Dicho y Hecho, which is supported by the Wiley Plus electronic system. The team chair attended an October course redesign workshop in Tucson, AZ, sponsored by Pearson publishers, with the goal of learning more about supporting technologies.  The team
is currently making arrangements with university scheduling (because the course redesign alters the 
parameters of university course scheduling times) and with administrators/facilities managers to identify classroom space for the project. All are very excited and looking forward to the pilot. To learn more, contact
Leah Fonder-Solano at

The University of Southern Mississippi has made good progress on two fronts in its redesign of Technical Writing. As part of curriculum development and course planning, the team has had three separate teleconferences with the Digital Solutions Group at Cengage Learning. Specifically, the team has been
working directly with Cengage to develop and digitize the textbook material to be used in the course as well
as to develop clear learning objectives that can be measured at various points in the semester. The team is
on target with these efforts and should have a working model of the course by the end of October. The team
has established a clear timeline for building and outfitting the lab and has begun designing the Blackboard course shell which will be used to host the course material supplied by Cengage. The team has also
scheduled the weekly course lecture, designed a method for registering students and assigning them to
sub-sections of the course and begun the process of staffing the course. The team currently remains on schedule for piloting the redesign of Technical Writing in spring 2009, with full implementation on track for fall 2009. To learn more, contact Michael Mays at

To learn more about the Mississippi Course Redesign Initiative, contact Alfred Rankins, IHL Director of Academic Affairs, at

SUNY Redesign Projects Prepare for Spring 2009 Pilots

The ten projects from the State University of New York (SUNY) Course Redesign Initiative are actively
planning for their spring 2009 pilots. Teams from many of these projects will give full reports at the Redesign Alliance Conference in March 2009 described below. Full abstracts describing these projects are available at What follows are progress reports from the projects.

One pilot section of the redesign of The Economic System at Buffalo State College (BSC) is up and running using the Replacement Model, which will be compared with a traditional lecture-style section. Each section
has approximately 150 students enrolled, and both are using parallel subject content. During summer 2008,
a research assistant developed portions of the online text and course activities, supervised digitization of
existing videos by the instructional resources staff and identified additional streaming videos from Discovery Education that were embedded into the online text for the redesigned section. The redesigned section is supported by five undergraduate learning assistants (ULAs), recruited and trained during August 2008 from those who had previously completed the course. All received training in the Angel course management
system as well as training specific to course activities and content. Each ULA works with ~30 students once
a week in place of a traditional lecture. Activities include Jeopardy quiz show review sessions, in-class videos with question-and-answer sessions and class role-playing skits. The activities are based on the successful use of such projects prior to the start of the redesign. The assessment component of the project has begun under the supervision of the BSC Center for Health and Social Research. Both sections are using exams with common questions to establish the baseline data for assessment. In addition, the assessment team will construct an instrument to evaluate (for formative purposes) the impact of the more extensive utilization of instructional technology. The plan for spring 2009 is to offer a single section of the redesigned course, making both a complete online text and ULAs available to work with teams of students using alternative learning techniques. To learn more, contact Karen O’Quin at

SUNY Canton began working on its redesign of Introduction to Biology and Introduction to Human Biology
during summer 2008. After an extensive review of textbooks, the team selected Krogh’s A Brief Guide to
Biology with Physiology
published by Benjamin Cummings. A pre-test, which will be used with a post-test to compare student learning in the traditional and redesigned formats, was created and administered to all students enrolled in the traditional courses on the first day of class. A course evaluation was also designed
to be given to students in the traditional as well as the redesigned sections. Additionally, a course coordinator was hired along with a full-time tenure-track faculty member to teach the course. Currently the learning modules are being designed based on the syllabus that was created by the redesign team. The first four modules are nearly complete and are being added to the Angel course management software. Team
members are also gathering active-learning ideas to supplement the in-class discussions. The fall 2008 semester will see the completion of the online components of the redesign as well as the hiring and training
of peer-tutors to work in the computer labs. As the redesign work progresses, the faculty are becoming more energized and excited about putting the plan to work. To learn more, contact Ronald Tavernier at

Erie Community College (ECC) has made progress during summer 2008 toward its goal to replace its
current developmental writing courses with one technology-enhanced course. The online instructional
resource MyWritingLab and the SMARTHINKING tutoring service will be used to engage students in the
learning process. ECC’s assessment plan has been further refined by the creation of a developmental
writing rubric which will be used in the traditional developmental writing courses during fall 2008 to establish
a baseline. The team participated in an extensive training session in the use of MyWritingLab during summer 2008, and training sessions will begin this fall for all developmental writing faculty. In spring 2009, the pilot will include two sections of the redesigned course offered on each of ECC’s three campuses. During summer 2009, the team will review the results of these six sections in preparation for full implementation in fall 2009. To learn more, contact Richard Wolcott at

The redesign of First-Year Spanish at SUNY Fredonia is moving forward. The good news is that every
instructor who is going to be involved in the course in the future is enthusiastic and interested. The team is holding regular meetings in which the feedback and the responses have been completely positive and
creative. During summer 2008, the team reviewed the online material available with the chosen textbook, but
a new edition will now make part of that work obsolete. But the real work kicked off when everyone returned to campus in August with a series of meetings with administrators and the technical support staff. One
important aspect of the project is selling it to committees, the registrar’s office and other administrators. Although everybody is enthusiastic about the redesign, the new course must be approved, and many administrative steps must be taken. The team must also work in close collaboration with the technology staff because the wiring, networking and other preparations of the language lab are just getting started. To learn more, contact Juan DeUrda at

The team at Niagara County Community College, which is redesigning its introductory statistics course,
began working on two major goals during summer 2008. Since the redesign will involve all sections and all instructors of the course, one goal was to finalize a common curriculum by having all full-time statistics instructors meet several times. The group selected a textbook that both fits the syllabus and accompanies MyStatLab, the software to be used in the redesign. The team came to a consensus on the specific chapters, sections and objectives that will be covered by all instructors. The second goal was to establish a course framework as it pertains to the resources and functionality of MyStatLab. The team decided to use the
software’s prerequisite feature as a means of requiring students to complete each assignment prior to
starting the next assignment. The homework assignments will lead to mandatory practice tests, which are designed to prepare the student to take the unit tests. The team also decided that all homework, tests, and
the final exam will be taken electronically via MyStatLab. In fall 2008, groundbreaking for the new
double-section computer classroom, necessary for the redesign, occurred. Although most of the academic decisions about this learning space were made over the summer, many of the specifics of the physical transformation are occurring now. Representatives of the team are meeting biweekly with facilities and IT
staff to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible and to provide ample time for instructors to be trained on the capabilities of the new classroom. To learn more, contact Daniel Miller at

SUNY College at Old Westbury has begun its College Algebra redesign project with a pilot section of about
75 students. The selected software, MyMathLab, required considerable set-up with assignments and
deadlines coordinated with school holidays and other quirks of the calendar. The team has developed guidelines for all personnel and met with prospective staff. The biggest start-up task was to expand the dedicated math lab, which involved knocking out a wall, wiring for power and internet access, and purchasing additional computers. The lab had been serving about 100 students, but fall enrollment jumped to about 220, so considerable preparation was needed. The new construction did not come together in time, so the team
was forced to improvise a bit and channel students into an adjacent lab. Unexpectedly, the team discovered
that nearly everyone in the redesigned algebra class wanted to work in the lab right after class in an effort to avoid rush-hour traffic. Students are getting along fine now. The team plans another pilot in spring 2009 before fully implementing the redesign in fall 2009. To learn more, contact Jim Llana at

The SUNY at Oswego College Algebra course team spent a good part of the summer constructing a 28-item pre-post test and creating a scoring rubric to be used to compare student learning in the traditional and redesigned formats. The exam was administered to a small group of students and, to test the rubric, each
exam was scored by each faculty expert. During fall 2008, all students in College Algebra completed the
pre-test, which will serve as a baseline, and the exams were scored using the rubric. Also during the summer, various documents were created including a job description and a list of qualifications for the position of Learning Assistant (LA), a request to faculty to provide names of prospective LAs, a letter to these students inviting applications for the position, an LA application form and accompanying recommendation form. Applications for LA positions are currently being reviewed, and the team is planning a 15-hour orientation/training program for LAs. Departments affected by the redesign were identified this summer, and
the team has begun to meet with these departments to explain the nature of the redesign and the impact on
their majors. Additionally, the team mapped out the scope and pacing of the course content for the traditional course during fall 2008. Scheduling issues for the pilot were discussed with the registrar and his staff, the
chair of the mathematics department and the director of institutional research. In preparation for using the Hawkes Learning System (HLS) software, one team member participated in a webinar and two members attended a workshop on October 10, 2008, in Oxford, MS on using HLS in course redesign. The team has
also begun building HLS homework certification sets and online quizzes to be used in the pilot in spring
2009. To learn more, contact Patricia Pacitti at

The history redesign team at SUNY at Potsdam worked over the summer to prepare for the pilot offering of
the courses during spring 2009. The historians on the team identified course materials that they will use and worked with representatives of textbook publishers on the interactive software and its interface with
Blackboard. During the remainder of the fall 2008 semester, the teaching faculty will work with textbook publishers' representatives and the college's distance learning coordinator to get the courses fully up on Blackboard in preparation for the pilot. They also identified two additional faculty members, one American historian and one European historian, who will share responsibility for offering the two redesigned courses. Recognizing that the changes in content and delivery of the courses are significant enough to require them
to go through the regular course approval process, the history faculty worked more quickly than they had
planned on developing content of the courses for approval by the college’s distance learning committee, curriculum committee and general education committee. The history faculty has also developed criteria for
the appointment of virtual preceptors (VP) and undergraduate learning assistants (ULAs). Administrative members of the team have worked with Human Resources on policies and procedures for appointing VPs
and ULAs. The team has moved toward selecting two adjuncts to serve as VPs and four undergraduates to serve as ULAs for the pilot. Administrators have also worked on the short-term problem of identifying a
computer lab that will be available for the exclusive use of students in the redesigned courses for 30 hours
per week for the pilot and the long-term problem of creating a computer lab available for the exclusive use of history students after full implementation. Administrative members have also worked with the registrar’s
office on matters relating to scheduling what will likely be the largest classes offered on campus in ways that don’t exactly fit the scheduling template. The team is satisfied with its progress and gratified by the reception
its ideas have received in the department and in the college. The spring 2009 pilot is almost ready to go, and administrative commitment to the project will ensure that the space and scheduling issues mentioned above will be solved by the time of full implementation in fall 2009. To learn more, contact Krista Medo at

During summer 2008, the work on changes and improvements needed for the redesign of Physics for Life Sciences at Stony Brook University were completed. The web-based homework problems were transcribed
to MapleTA and tested in the summer sessions with the goal of putting tutorial wrappers around them.
Authoring of the tutorial wrappers and of the physics and analysis part of the video lab lectures has been
started. The online labs are being completed. Streaming video lectures about the execution of experiments
are being produced for each lab and tested in the lab course now being taught. Students can access these videos from any internet-capable computer running Quicktime. For the interactive workshops the “clicker” software has been integrated with Blackboard and is in use, resulting in considerable time savings by
avoiding lengthy massaging and transfer of data. Time-consuming data handling is still practiced for the transfer of the online reports and homework problems from the physics department’s servers to Blackboard. However, the integration of MapleTA with Blackboard is being tested now and will be used for all students in
due time. The department of teaching, learning and technology (TLT) is working on the translation of course lectures, currently in a proprietary format, into Adobe Flash. Exam questions for the Life Science students are being added to the regular exams of the traditional course being taught now. Similar questions will be used in the spring 2009 pilot.

The number of experimental stations and setups in the two laboratories was increased by 25%.
Departmental expenditures approaching $200,000 have been devoted to the purchase of new lab
equipment and rehabbing space. Sixty desktop computer systems for these labs and two servers were
provided for use in the redesigned course by TLT. The infrastructure for streaming video into the lab computers was put in place. The data collecting electronics were replaced by a commercial product, modernizing the process. The lab manuals were completely rewritten to reflect this change. Tutorials were
set up for online lab reports and tested with small classes in both summer sessions. Server stress tests for submission of large numbers of assignments in a short period of time were successful.

Faculty are planning an improved help room that will result in more assistance for both lower and upper
level courses. The department has converted and rehabbed two 215 square foot offices for use as small
help rooms. One aspect of the redesign has already paid off: graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) and undergraduate teaching assistants (UGTAs) staffing the help room all have to do exactly the same homework as the students, all of which is graded by MapleTA. This has led to considerably better trained help room staff, reducing the number of complaints about uninformed UGTAs. To learn more, contact Rod Engelmann at

To learn more about the SUNY Course Redesign Initiative, contact Patricia Pietropaolo, Assistant Provost for Community Colleges, SUNY System Administration, at

Updates from Phase III of the Texas Course Redesign Initiative

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has awarded grants to 18 institutions across the state of Texas to redesign courses to improve student learning and reduce instructional costs as part of
Phase III of the Texas Course Redesign Initiative. Earlier phases of this initiative have focused first on
courses that were already nearly redesigned and then on those on a fast-track by expanding efforts already underway. Phase III is focused on developmental and entry-level college courses, which are being
redesigned individually or in pairs. What follows are progress reports from some of the projects.

Austin Community College is redesigning its two-semester, introductory biology sequence. The team has established redesigned labs at each of its five campuses, with workstations installed in groups of four to facilitate cooperative learning and small-group activities. All assessment instruments needed to evaluate
the effectiveness of the redesign were developed and piloted during summer 2008. These include
approximately 60 common questions for each course that will be embedded in unit and final exams. During summer 2008, full-time and adjunct faculty from the department were recruited and trained to teach half of all sections using the redesigned format and half using the traditional method. The content has been
modularized, and learning objectives have been established in both courses (Cellular and Molecular Biology and Structure and Function of Organisms.) An online, interactive, multimedia lab manual has also been developed. During the next three semesters (fall 2008, spring 2009 and summer 2009), the team plans to
teach half of all sections using the redesigned format and half of all sections using the traditional method. Although the number of students was small, a spring 2008 pre-pilot showed higher percentages of students who were successful. To learn more, contact Sal Tavormina at

Four redesigned sections of Business Math are being offered during fall 2008 at Texas A&M University. Two are taught on Tuesday/Thursday mornings with ~100 students each, and two are taught Monday/Wednesday afternoons with ~25 students each. All four sections complete group activities rather than listening to a
traditional lecture. Instead, traditional lectures are provided on videos that are assigned for a grade and
cover prerequisite or follow-up material to the class activities. Optional videos reinforce the material covered
in class. Thus far, the redesigned format appears to be very successful with high class attendance compared to traditional sections, possibly because students work together, motivate one another and hold group members accountable. As anticipated, scores on the first exam from the redesigned sections exceeded those of traditionally taught sections. Additional benefits include the following: 1) the instructor is able to work with small groups of students during the course of the class, making the learning more personalized; 2) the students are helping and encouraging each other; 3) the students are actively engaged in math during the class time rather than passively taking notes; 4) the students are gaining a depth of understanding as the worksheets guide them through the process of working a problem. These benefits are reinforced by such comments as: “Come on – you can do it! We will help you.” As one student commented to an instructor, “Yeah, I slept in class last time I took Math 141. I can’t really do that now.” To learn more, contact Don Allen at

The redesign of College Algebra and Developmental Math at the University of North Texas (UNT) is off to an excellent start. UNT faculty have visited several campuses that use the Emporium Model in similar math
courses and have had monthly videoconferences with NCAT Scholar, Joe Benson from the University of Alabama. A pilot is currently underway with two sections of Developmental Math with a total of 69 students
and two sections of College Algebra with 67 students. Based on what was learned from the summer pilots,
the team decided to teach two accelerated sections in which students can begin with Developmental Math
but quickly move into College Algebra. There are 53 students in these “combo” or joint sections. The math
center with 32 student computers and six laptop stations is staffed with a receptionist, who is also qualified
to help students, a math-specialist tutor and an instructor for 22 of the 42 hours the center is open. UNT has
also been working in collaboration with North Central Texas College (NCTC). NCTC is currently offering ten sections using the Emporium Model: one in Pre Algebra, two in Beginning Algebra, two in Intermediate
Algebra and five in College Algebra, with a total enrollment of 257 students. Nine different instructors are
involved at NCTC, and each is required to spend four hours per week per course in the Math Quest Center. These instructors are supplemented with four peer tutors and with other faculty on a volunteer basis. Students are required to spend three hours per week in the center, but students who earn a grade of 80% on each homework assignment and quiz for a week are automatically credited with attending. Students are also
required to attend a fifty-minute face-to-face class each week where problem areas from the previous week
and upcoming content are reviewed. To learn more, contact Phil Turner at

University of Texas at Brownsville/Southmost College is redesigning College Reading III paired with a required government course. During summer 2008, the redesign team finalized the planning phase and
began preparing materials and software for the fall 2008 pilot. Student learning outcome objectives have
been aligned and appropriate assessments created and selected to measure them. All pre-test data have
been collected. Training on software programs for faculty and undergraduate teaching assistants (UTAs)
has been conducted. The UTAs quickly moved into their roles thanks to the excellent training they received
prior to the start of the semester. While initially enrollment seemed low, the team’s advertising and recruiting efforts were successful, and the team filled all pilot sections. While the team was excited to see high
enrollment numbers, the last minute registration of students caused some initial problems. A great deal of cooperation and teamwork between various departments on campus allowed issues to be dealt with and resolved quickly. However, registration procedures will be one area under review prior to full implementation in spring 2009. Initially, the technology training for the students was very time consuming and began
interfering with instructional time. Again, the team will address this issue prior to full implementation in the spring. Currently, all is running smoothly. To learn more, contact Leslie Jones at

To learn more about the Texas redesign initiative, contact Vanessa Davis at


Featuring progress reports and outcomes achieved by the C2R program.

Round III C2R January 15 Application Deadline is Approaching

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

NCAT will bring four-person teams from 20 institutions together with NCAT staff and 19 Redesign Scholars at four disciplinary institutes (humanities; mathematics, statistics, computer science; natural sciences; and,
social sciences). The Institutes will introduce the teams to the NCAT redesign methodology, share strategies and techniques for successful course redesign and help teams develop plans for course redesigns on their home campuses.

Following each institute, NCAT will support collaboration and consultation among NCAT staff, Redesign Scholars and institutional teams to help teams apply what was learned at the Institutes on campus and replicate prior successes. Each participating C2R institution will have resources made possible by the FIPSE grant to invite one or more consultants drawn from among the Redesign Scholars to their campus for follow-up consultations and workshops.

Participating institutions will implement a pilot redesign in fall 2009 and will share their experiences and lessons learned with the larger higher education community at the annual conference sponsored by the Redesign Alliance. FIPSE funding will support team travel to the Institutes and to the conference.

The deadline for applying to participate in the third and final round is January 15, 2009. For a full description
of the Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) program and the application guidelines, see or contact Kay Katzer, NCAT Program Coordinator, at

C2R Round II Update

Pilots for the second round of the Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) projects are underway and are going quite well. Teams will collect comparative learning and cost data as part of their pilots. Teams from the C2R projects will give full reports at the Redesign Alliance Conference in March 2009 described below. Full abstracts of these projects are available at

At Arizona State University, the redesign of Emergent Literacy, a required course for state certification in
early childhood education, is well underway. The redesigned course will be offered in a fully online format, combining all sections on multiple campuses into one large section each term to accommodate increased demand. Both students and faculty are positive about the course. The use of social networking technologies
and videos is promoting student-teacher interaction. Students appreciate the opportunity to view instructor presentations because they add a personal dimension to online coursework. One issue that emerged was
that students lacked confidence in using Blackboard to submit written work and respond to questions in
online activities. The team responded by creating a “Frequently Asked Questions” discussion board and
adding links to university tutorials on completing tasks in Blackboard. When fully implemented, the redesign
will decrease the cost-per-student from $556 to $145, a 74% savings. To learn more, contact Nancy Perry at

Auburn University is well into the implementation of its Engineering Physics redesign, the foundation
course of its undergraduate engineering major, enrolling ~750 students annually. The redesign, using the Replacement Model, is incorporating new techniques and strategies to improve student learning. Students
will be given responsibility for the first exposure to the material through online activities and assessments completed prior to class. Students will work in small groups in an inquiry-based environment to solve real physical problems. The project team has already completed many necessary tasks including: adopting four virtual labs from Polyhedron Learning; developing detailed learning outcomes for each chapter in the textbook as well as pre- and post-tests based on them; working with Cengage, creating an e-text, student guide and individualized study plans; using WebAssign, creating online homework, Applets and problems for additional credit. The first exam has been given and results are being analyzed. A detailed course calendar in WebAssign is helping students keep up with course components and deadlines. The cost-per-student will decline from $390 to $219, a savings of 44% and will free up some faculty to teach upper-level courses. To learn more, contact Marllin Simon at

The redesign of Pre-Calculus Algebra at Auburn University, which enrolls ~1000 students annually, is going well. The redesigned course requires students to spend a minimum of three hours per week working with MyMathLab software and receiving individualized assistance. Students are active, engaged learners, working at their own rates with immediate feedback on their online work. Faculty are encouraging students to spend more time with their homework in order to understand concepts rather than limiting their understanding to specific assignments. Technical issues are being addressed as they surface. In some cases, such as the
need for additional software, the problems are already resolved. In other cases, such as the lack of the
ability to give partial credit in the software, a temporary manual solution has been put in place while a more permanent solution is being sought. Most students appear to be happy and satisfied with the redesigned course. Although a few have expressed their preference for the traditional format, preliminary observations indicate a low drop-out rate. The undergraduate student helpers are providing very important peer tutoring support, appreciated by both students and faculty. When fully implemented, the cost-per-student will be
reduced from $128 to $75, a 41% savings. The savings will allow Auburn to teach fewer auditorium courses
and enable a faculty member to teach upper-level courses. To learn more, contact Michel Smith at

New York Institute of Technology is well into the pilot implementation of its Introduction to Psychology
redesign, a course serving ~835 students annually. The redesign, using the Supplemental Model, has
created an active learning environment, engaging students in every class meeting. Students complete
mastery quizzes using Blackboard and access study materials and exercises in Mc Graw-Hill’s
software. They also take advantage of the discussion board. Initial technical difficulties
have been successfully resolved. Undergraduate peer mentors are doing a great job. The team has
determined that a preceptor who supervises the peer mentors is critical to the smooth running of the course. Preliminary feedback from the students has been positive. While meeting in small discussion groups with
their peer mentors, the students have expressed their interest in the topic and their enjoyment with the
engaging nature of the course overall. Upon full implementation, the cost-per-student will decrease from
$99 to $64, a 35% savings. To learn more, contact Spencer Turkel at

Oklahoma State University is redesigning College Algebra, a course annually taken by ~2000 students to
fulfill their major or general math requirements. Overall, the redesign, which uses the Emporium Model, has been running smoothly. Students meet once per week in a scheduled focus group and then spend three
hours each week in a computer lab. The lab is staffed by instructors and undergraduate tutors who provide
on-demand, individualized assistance. The personal attention in the labs and the focus groups keep the students more connected to the course. MyMathLab is used for all homework, quizzes and portions of exams. Issues such as staffing the lab are dealt with as they arise. Instructors are experimenting with ways to use focus groups most effectively. Preliminary feedback from instructors is positive. Although student performance data have yet to be analyzed, students seem to be doing much more math each week, which should improve their success rate. Feedback from students has been mixed. Many students indicate that they really like all of the resources available in MyMathLab while some have complained about having to learn on the computer. The team is exploring the possibility of collecting data on student attitudes in addition to student achievement data. The redesigned course will reduce instructional costs from $102 per student to $74, a 27% savings, which will be used to support other math courses and expand the graduate program. To learn more, contact Cynthia Francisco at

At Southeastern Louisiana University, the redesign of Intermediate Algebra is progressing quite well. The course, serving ~1200 students annually, is a gatekeeper to students’ overall progress and success at the university. The redesigned course, using the Replacement Model, consists of two focused lecture sessions
and three hours of required online work in the lab each week where they also receive one-on-one help frominstructors and peer tutors. Homework, quizzes and tests are completed using MyMathLab. A major issue that has arisen is associated with the larger than anticipated number of students. Three labs with appropriate staffing are necessary to meet demand rather than the planned single lab with 40 workstations.
Administrators are working to provide a larger space to accommodate 125-150 computers for next semester, which will eliminate or reduce the staffing issue. Preliminary feedback has been good. Many students praise
the program as they feel they are learning math in this student-centered learning environment. Many faculty
are astonished by the students becoming more independent learners. As expected, several students have voiced their discontent at the amount of work. The redesign will reduce the cost-per-student from $201 to
$100, a 50% savings which will be used by the university to invest in other courses outside of the
mathematics department that can be redesigned. To learn more, contact Rebecca Muller at

The University of Central Florida is well into a successful implementation of its College Algebra redesign.
This course enrolls ~4100 students annually, the highest enrolled course in the department. The redesign, using the Emporium Model, requires students to meet once a week in large sections and spend at least three hours each week in the computer lab where they complete homework and quiz assignments using
. On-demand tutoring is available in the lab. The required lab hours have received mixed
reviews from the students. Some have indicated that they do not think the required lab time is necessary,
while others have commented that they are working harder than they ever expected they would. Faculty
anticipate that the withdrawal rate will be minimized in the redesign. Two initial technical problems, complications with populating the Microsoft Access data base and using the log-in system, have been resolved. A new online scheduler for tests has not functioned, but system modifications are completed and
the revised system is being tested. The team anticipates that it will be fully functional for the remaining tests
in the current semester. Faculty are currently investigating a permanent solution for future lab needs that will
be necessary for the full implementation of the redesign. At this point in time, faculty are confident that the redesign will be successful. When fully implemented, the cost-per-student will decrease from $77 to $44, a
37% savings, which will be used by the department to offer additional math courses. To learn more, contact Tammy Muhs at

At the University of West Alabama, the redesign of Written English has so far proven successful. Using the Replacement Model, each section is organized into three learning teams. Each team meets with the
instructor once a week for mini-lectures and to go over workshop drafts. Students also work on activities such as grammar in a supervised computer lab for two hours each week. The implementation of learning
teams is working well; students understand the concept and are willing and able to shift locales between
the home classroom and the lab on alternating days. Many students are openly excited about the innovative format and the increased level of tutorial help provided in the lab sessions. The instructors have both reported that the small-group sessions are among the best composition classes they have taught. The students are focused and the small-group format allows for close and detailed discussion of essay drafts. Students are on task in the lab, in part because of close supervision by the lab assistant and in part because the students often have quite a lot to do on lab session days. The hands-on oriented venue is working; specific lab assignments reduce boredom as students can vary tasks and develop a sense of ownership of work. Faculty are pleased with these aspects of the pilot. A few technology problems have surfaced, and the team is working with the IT staff to resolve them. With the exception of the technological issues, the team regards the redesign as a genuine success at this point in the term. When fully implemented, the cost-per-student will be reduced by 16%, from $248 to $209. The savings will be used to move faculty resources to program building, particularly in the graduate program. To learn more, contact Tim Edwards at


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

December Getting Started Workshop at Ohio State

People frequently ask us, “How can our institution get started on course redesign? What should we do first?” NCAT and the Ohio State University (OSU) are co-sponsoring Getting Started on Course Redesign, a
workshop for those who are thinking about beginning a redesign project. The day-long event will be held on
the OSU campus in Columbus, OH, on December 4, 2008.

Beginning at 8:30 am and ending at 3:30 pm, 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. Participating with representatives from OSU will be project
leaders and administrators from Lorain County Community College. 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 If you have questions about this workshop,
please feel free to contact Carolyn Jarmon at 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!

Registration Now Open for the 2009 Redesign Alliance Conference

Registration is now open for the Third Annual Redesign Alliance Conference that will be held March 22 - 24, 2009 at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, FL. This conference will provide an exciting opportunity to learn more
about course redesign and share ideas with those who have accomplished a successful redesign as well
as those who are working on one right now. Building on the highly successful 2007 and 2008 conferences, each of which had an attendance of more than 400 people, the 2009 conference promises to be even more engaging. Since last year’s conference, more than 40 new large-scale course redesigns have been launched. The program will feature new examples from academic areas such as engineering, history, nutrition, physics and technical writing as well as new redesigns in core areas such as developmental math and English, Spanish and psychology, to name a few. Registration information and the preliminary agenda are available at

Early registration is available through February 19, 2009 and offers a $100 savings for registering prior to that date. Final registration closes on March 5, 2009. Be sure to “save your seat” and register early!

Why Bring an Institutional Team to the Redesign Alliance Annual Conference?

Sometimes institutions send one or two people to the Redesign Alliance Annual Conference expecting them to “bring back good ideas” for everyone else at the institution. A more effective strategy is to bring a team to the conference. Two members of the Redesign Alliance Advisory Board--Karen Wells, Vice President of Learner Services and Chief Academic Officer at Lorain County Community College, and Ben Hambelton, Director of Academic Technologies at Boise State University--have brought teams to the conference. We asked them to elaborate on why this is a good idea.

Karen Wells: “As the Third Annual Redesign Alliance Conference approaches, I have extended an invitation to each of Lorain County Community College’s (LCCC) academic divisions to identify one faculty member to
attend the conference with me. This will be the third year that I will travel to the conference with a team of
faculty, deans and staff who are either involved in a course redesign initiative or are curious about what
course redesign is and how to get started. The conference affords the team extensive exposure to the
redesign models, to faculty who have completed successful course redesigns, to the national context for this work and to NCAT. When participants return to LCCC, they are invariably inspired by what they have learned. Some go on to attend the Redesign Alliance’s course redesign workshops held on campuses
that showcase redesigns in specific subject areas. Prior attendees also serve as an important resource for course redesigns at LCCC. As Provost, I cover the travel expenses for the faculty on our team. They do not use their annual travel allocation which typically funds travel to their professional conferences.  What is interesting is that faculty who attend the Redesign Alliance Conference often find that course redesign is featured at their professional conferences, which gives them further exposure to the national context for this work. Bringing campus teams to the Redesign Alliance Annual Conference provides uninterrupted time for faculty to focus their attention on the principles of course redesign and to reflect on how redesign might impact their pedagogy. The conference is a professional development activity that stretches the imagination of everyone who participates.”

Ben Hambelton: “Without doubt, one of the most productive things we have done on our campuswide
redesign project was to send whole teams to the Redesign Alliance Annual Conference. Three powerful
things occurred: 1) All members of the team received the same vision, the same reinforcement and the
same suggestions; no one had to interpret or explain to the others. 2) The conference gave the team critical
time together to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of each other. This could happen at home, but often it does
not. The conference setting is perfect for sustained thinking with an opportunity to vet those thoughts with experienced colleagues from other schools. 3) Each member of the team had wonderful one-to-one consultations with publishers and technology providers that the typical trade show does not provide. I would
not consider a large-scale redesign project without sending the whole team to the conference. It is that critical to success in my eyes.”

To learn more, contact Karen Wells at or Ben Hambelton at

New at the 2009 Conference: Poster Sessions To Share Good Ideas

One of the new features of the 2009 Redesign Alliance Conference is the opportunity to participate in a
poster session. In order to showcase additional good ideas and best practices beyond what is on the formal conference program, the 2009 conference will feature a poster session to share successful redesign experiences with others. Posters will highlight the innovative ways that institutions are approaching course redesign. The session will allow one-on-one discussion between attendees and presenters, creating an informal opportunity to share ideas. The poster sessions will be held on Monday, March 23 from 5:15 pm to
6:30 pm adjacent to the poolside reception. To learn more about this new conference session or to apply to
be part of it, see


Linking content and software providers with leading edge institutions.

Cengage Learning Hosts Workshop Series

Building upon the events they hosted at the March 2008 Redesign Alliance Annual Conference, Cengage Learning is hosting both a series of teaching and learning workshops and a conference. Among the
Cengage solutions which attracted strong interest at the conference are Courseware, Enhanced
WebAssign, OWL, Aplia, and SAM. The events give participants further insight into the value that key
Cengage Solutions can bring to a course redesign effort. At each, NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon discusses how
to get started on course redesign, and there is be a specific focus in the workshops on how to prepare applications for the Colleagues Committed to Redesign Program (C2R). Cengage Learning’s TeamUp
Faculty Programs Group, which provides educator-to-educator assistance for creating and implementing successful course redesigns and serves as a resource for course redesign development and
implementation, is also showcased at these events:

  • Mathematics Workshop: October 24, 2008, in Houston, TX
  • Chemistry Workshop: November 14-15, 2008, in Amherst, MA
  • Course Technology Conference on Computer Information Systems: March 11-13, 2009 in
    Las Vegas, NV

For more information about these events or to register, contact Julie Conover at For more information about available Cengage Learning products, visit

Pearson Education Focuses on Course Redesign with Faculty Advocates

Pearson Education recently featured Carolyn Jarmon, NCAT’s Senior Associate, during a key professional development event for Faculty Advocates for Statistics, Economics, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology. Pearson’s Faculty Advocate Program supports talented instructors who work with their peers on developing
their interest and skills in using Pearson’s MyLab technologies. Mike Ryan of Western Michigan University,
a Faculty Advocate for MyEconLab, was intrigued by Carolyn’s in-depth presentation on course redesign.
“Although I was familiar with course redesign, I learned so much more about the process and details on
how a course redesign can impact student learning. Just seeing the picture of the Math Emporium at the University of Alabama gave me some fresh ideas about my own course and how I might apply some
principles of course redesign right away. My course has 200 to 250 students, and it’s challenging to reach
each student. I’m thinking about holding some office hour sessions in a lab so that I can show small
groups of students how to use MyEconLab to improve their results in the course.” For more information
about any of the MyLab products, the Faculty Advocate Program or Pearson events featuring course
redesign, contact Karen Mullane at


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

Workshops at Frostburg State University Feature NCAT Redesign Scholars

Two course redesign workshops were held in September 2008 at Frostburg State University (FSU) in
Maryland. On September 12, 2008, Redesign Scholar Tristan Denley from the University of Mississippi
led a workshop titled, “Why Engage in Course Redesign? A Special Look at Math Courses.” The workshop
was sponsored by Hawkes Learning Systems, a member of the Redesign Alliance. The second workshop
was held on September 19, 2008, and led by Redesign Scholar John Broida from the University of Southern Maine. The workshop, entitled “How to Engage in Course Redesign and How Clickers can Enhance Your Student's Classroom Experience,” was sponsored by Worth Publishers, a member of the Redesign Alliance. Both workshops were open to faculty at FSU and at other campuses. FSU is a participant in the University System of Maryland's course redesign initiative in collaboration with NCAT. For more information on the workshop and FSU’s course redesign effort, see or
contact Megan Bradley at

Carnegie Learning Provides Options for Developmental Math

Founded by cognitive science researchers and computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)
in conjunction with veteran mathematics teachers, Carnegie Learning has developed research-based math solutions for middle school, high school and post-secondary students in developmental education. The
curricula (Bridge to Algebra, Algebra I, G eometry, Algebra II, and Integrated Math programs) currently are
being used with 500,000 students in nearly 2600 schools across the US. Carnegie Learning Blended
Curricula Solutions integrate interactive software, text, and collaborative classroom activities; Carnegie
Learning Adaptive Math Solutions feature Cognitive Tutor® software lessons that may be easily customized. (Cognitive tutoring was used successfully in CMU’s redesign of introductory statistics as part of NCAT’s
Program in Course Redesign.) In numerous independent studies at the secondary level, Carnegie Learning curricula consistently show a significant effect on student learning resulting in improved academic
achievement in mathematics. “Real-world examples, multiple representations of problem-solving software
tools and collaborative student-teacher activities result in active, higher-level thinking and a deeper understanding and retention of math concepts over the long-term,” says Dennis Ciccone, Chief Executive
Officer of Carnegie Learning, Inc. All solutions are supported by professional development services to ensure successful implementation. To learn more, see or contact Mary Murrin at

Course Redesign in Western Pennsylvania: It's Part of a Movement!

We’re not the only ones calling course redesign a movement. After describing a course redesign at the University of Pittsburgh, a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette went on to say, “It's just one example
of a movement taking hold as higher education challenges old notions about teaching. On a variety of campuses, faculty worried about high failure rates or lessons that lack relevance are redesigning their
courses with the hope of improving student success and even saving their institutions money.” NCAT is described as a “catalyst” in that movement. The article, “Professors redesign courses for success,” features several examples of western Pennsylvania institutions that are redesigning introductory courses using active-learning strategies including Pitt, Carnegie Mellon University and Westmoreland County Community College. Pitt, for example, is using Alice software developed at Carnegie Mellon to engage students in computer programming. The content of the course is more engaging and students are using software to complete more challenging assignments; faculty can identify student sticking points and adjust the course in response. The Alice software, with its catalogue of images and pre-programmed movements, is helping to make instruction more meaningful on an estimated 15% of the nation's campuses. The article quotes Kati Haycock, President of the Washington DC-based Education Trust, “It turns out that somewhere between 25 and 35 of undergraduate courses typically account for more than a third of all undergraduate enrollment. The idea is, if you can get those courses to work better--high standards but more deliberative efforts to get students to meet those standards--then you can really begin to turn around the undergraduate success rate." To read the full article, see


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.

  • To subscribe to The Learning MarketSpace, click here.
  • To submit items for inclusion in this newsletter, please contact Carolyn G. Jarmon,
  • Archives of this newsletter are available here.
  • This newsletter is a merger of The Learning MarketSpace and The Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter.
  • Archives of The Learning MarketSpace, written by Bob Heterick and Carol Twigg and published
    from July 1999 – February 2003, are available here.
  • Archives of The Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter, published from 1999 – 2002,
    are available here.
  • You are welcome to re-post The Learning MarketSpace without charge. Material contained in The Learning MarketSpace may be reprinted with attribution for non-commercial purposes.

Copyright 2008, The National Center for Academic Transformation