Impact on Students
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
In the redesign, did students learn more, less, or the same compared to the traditional format?
The IUPUI team conducted two types of assessments, both of which compared traditional sociology sections to redesigned sections. Comparisons were made in two areas: grades (especially the DFW rate) and performance on a test of key sociological concepts administered at the end of the semester.
In fall 1998, before any course redesign, the overall DFW rate (the percentage of students receiving a D or F or withdrawing from the course) in Introduction to Sociology was 38.9%. In the fall 2000 pilot, the overall DFW rate was 33.3%; in spring 2001, it was 30.3%; in fall 2001, it dropped to 24.8%. Results of a regression analysis that controlled for a range of student background characteristics confirmed that students in the redesigned format were significantly less likely (.01 level) than were students in traditional sections to earn a D, an F, or a W.
For a consideration of whether differences in the characteristics of students taking the course in the two formats might have been responsible for these results, final course grades were regressed on the following: whether or not the student was in a redesigned course; status (full vs. part-time); high-school percentile rank; total SAT score; race; gender; whether or not the student was taught by a full-time or part-time faculty member; and whether or not the student was a beginning freshman. In fall 2000, students in redesigned sections had higher (.10 level) grades, controlling for the other variables. Being a student in a redesigned section added about one-third of a letter grade (.33 on a 4.0 scale) to the student's final grade. In spring 2001, a similar regression showed that students in redesign sections had significantly higher (.05 level) grades than those in the traditional format.
A set of common objective questions measuring understanding of key sociological concepts was developed and administered across all sections of Introduction to Sociology. In fall 2000, when traditional sections were compared to redesigned sections in terms of the number of the 25 common questions answered correctly, a difference-of-means test showed that students in redesigned sections scored significantly higher (.05 level) than those in traditional sections. In spring and fall 2001, means for students’ scores in the redesigned sections were not significantly different from traditional section means.
Other Impacts on Students
Both linked and non-linked sections were part of the course redesign. Linked sections were redesigned sections whose students were simultaneously enrolled in the same section of Elementary Composition. Non-linked sections were composed of students who were in a redesigned Introduction to Sociology section but who did not share a common section of Elementary Composition. Linked composition sections focused, in part, on sociological readings and concepts. One of the outcomes most positively affected by linking sociology and composition sections was improved student research paper writing in Introduction to Sociology. Impressionistic data from instructors indicates that students in linked sections write better in Elementary Composition than students in either traditional or redesigned, non-linked sections.
Program in Course Redesign Quick Links: