Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
Pedagogical Improvement Techniques
What techniques contributed most to improving the quality of student learning?
Increased interaction among students. Oncourse, IUPUI’s Web-based course-delivery system, allows faculty members to create groups in which students may easily contact one another. A traditional problem with classroom-based groups on IUPUI’s urban campus is that students have trouble meeting with each other. Oncourse allows 24/7 group communication. This is especially important in large sections of Introduction to Sociology, where instructor-student and student-student interaction is often inhibited by class size.
Online student social survey. The online survey, introduced across redesigned sections as part of the research module, introduces students to survey design and implementation. Comparing students’ results with national survey data offers students a learning experience rooted in their own lives and in social science. The online survey also forced sociology faculty to work collaboratively to develop the questions to be included. The IUPUI course-redesign team will continue to update the survey, the research module, and the ways in which these resources are used.
Cost Savings Techniques
What techniques contributed most to reducing costs?
Oncourse. Using Oncourse, which automates many features of course management, is the key element that enables IUPUI to offer more large sections, the primary contributor to cost reduction in their redesign. In addition to providing students with immediate feedback, Oncourse includes an online gradebook feature that permits easy storage and calculation of grades. Oncourse also allows the easy transportation of syllabi, assignments, and examinations from one semester to the next. Preparation time from semester to semester, and within semesters, is reduced. Oncourse also allows instructors to send messages 24/7. Changes in syllabi and special notices concerning class, for example, can be delivered efficiently at any time. Oncourse also reduces the time that teaching assistants in the large sections of Introduction to Sociology must spend in recording grades and photocopying course materials.
Online testing. Depending on the instructor, implementing online examinations has freed from one to four class periods per semester, allowing for additional instruction in areas not normally covered in class (e.g., a focus on students’ writing), more in-depth coverage of topics important for a given instructor, and group presentations.
What implementation issues were most important?
Campus support. The IUPUI course-redesign team has received strong support from the campus administration. IUPUI’s Center for Teaching and Learning established an instructional design team that participated in the summer workshops and is on-call for questions and consultation. The IUPUI University Library has provided significant support for IUPUI’s redesign project. Librarians were part of the instructional design teams and participated in the summer workshops. They have also been available for questions and consultation.
Implementation in waves. Implementation occurred in waves, with summer workshops in 2000 and 2001 and scheduled for 2002. Faculty who participated in the first workshop served as resources for those in the second workshop. Implementation developed collaboratively, rather than top-down, and this built faculty support for the project. However, development in waves and collaboration also slowed implementation. New faculty brought new ideas and concerns that enhanced the project but that also required modifications and adjustments.
Linking sociology and composition courses. Traditionally, Introduction to Sociology faculty have taken an individualistic approach; pedagogical discussion is general, sporadic, and uncoordinated. Elementary Composition faculty have been highly organized for a number of years. For Elementary Composition faculty, common goals and a shared syllabus, textbook, assignments, and grading rubrics are routine. As a result, Elementary Composition faculty are better able to deliver a standard learning experience; they also save time and effort by working together, benefiting from one another’s ideas. Sociology faculty benefited from collaboration with English faculty. Unfortunately, the sociology-composition linking was more cumbersome than expected. IUPUI’s registration software is not programmed to keep students co-enrolled in two (or more) courses; electronically, students may drop one course yet not the other. The course-redesign coordinator must carefully, and continually, monitor enrollments. In addition, during the development of the sociology-composition links, it became evident that faculty in each discipline knew less about the other discipline than anticipated. Thus, faculty in linked courses attended a significant number of the classes of their linked counterpart, increasing faculty workload. As links become more routine and faculty become more familiar with one another, the number of classes attended should drop.
Program in Course Redesign Quick Links: