Impact on Students
University of Colorado at Boulder
In the redesign, did students learn more, less or the same compared to the traditional format?
To assess the effectiveness of students’ learning, final examinations with identical multiple-choice questions were administered to a redesigned section and a traditional section of comparable size. The results of this comparison were mixed and not statistically significant. In the first semester of redesign, the students in the standard lecture format performed slightly better than those in the redesigned format. In the second semester, the students in the redesign performed slightly better.
Although results in the redesigned course thus proved no different from results in the traditional course, this assessment exercise turned out to be rather unsatisfying because the learning goals of the redesign diverged from those of the standard format. In comparing learning gains, the course-redesign team used typical examination questions from the standard format, which mainly measured the students' mastery of facts. The redesign emphasized teaching the students to develop their understanding of the scientific process through written and verbal communication and to draw conclusions from collaborative inquiry-based activities. With respect to these goals, the team did not have a good way to measure the relative effectiveness of the two formats.
Other Impacts on Students
The redesign team interviewed all students in the redesigned courses in small groups. Here is a brief summary of students’ reactions to the redesign:
One of the most meaningful measures of success will be to see whether the fraction of students who took the course in the redesigned format and who continue to take courses in physics and astronomy is greater than the corresponding fraction of students who took the course in the standard format. Anecdotally, the team believes that this will happen, but it does not yet have the longitudinal data to make this comparison.
Program in Course Redesign Quick Links: