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Impact on Students

University at Buffalo (SUNY)

In the redesign, did students learn more, less or the same compared to the traditional format?

Improved Learning

A set of questions from the final exam of the traditional course was selected to serve as a pre- and post-test to provide a direct measure of content knowledge. These questions were asked of the students in the redesigned course at the beginning of the semester and again at the end of the semester. Baseline data were collected in the traditional course during the semester before the redesign began (spring 2000). Examination data were then collected for the redesigned course (spring 2001). The table below shows the results.


Percent Correct Min. % Correct Max. % Correct
Traditional Post 69% 21% 88%
Redesigned Pre 30% 0% 79%
Redesigned Post 66% 32% 96%

The course-redesign team did not give the pre-test in the traditional course. In the redesigned course, the percent of correct answers increased from 30% to 66%. At the beginning of the semester some students could not correctly answer any of the questions, but by the end of the course, no student answered less than 32% of the questions correctly in the redesigned course, versus 21% in the traditional course. Similarly the maximum percent correct increased from 88% to 96%. The difference between post-test scores in the traditional and redesigned formats was not significant. The professor also reported being able to cover more material in the redesigned course than in the traditional course, suggesting that the quantity of learning may have increased.

Analysis of the final grades indicates that there was an increase in the percentage of students earning a grade of A- or higher, from 37% to 56%. The mean grade earned in the course increased by a third of a letter grade, from a C+ to a B-.

Other Impacts on Students

The completion rate for the course was slightly higher (94% vs. 91%) in the redesigned course. There was also an increase (from 74% to 78%) in retention (the percentage of students earning a grade of C or higher). These differences were not significant.

Since one of the goals of the course is to empower students in their use of technology, positive changes in students’ attitudes toward computing would be an indication that the course is achieving this goal. The course-redesign team administered a survey of students’ attitudes toward computing and their confidence in their computing skills. Survey results show that students entering the redesigned course were less confident and less empowered than the students from the previous year in the traditional course, yet their positive attitudes increased. In contrast, students’ attitudes toward computing became more negative over the semester in the traditional course.

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Program in Course Redesign Quick Links:

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Lessons Learned:
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