|Program in Course Redesign
University of Central Florida
The Traditional Course
American National Government is an introductory-level course, one of two options in the General Education Program Social Foundations requirement of the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the option that 75% of students choose. Students in any given section of the course represent varied majors, levels of interest, and exposure to the subject at the high school level. The course enrolls approximately 2,200 students in 30 sections annually. Each section enrolls 80–100 students. The traditional course is taught primarily by lecture, with some sections employing a Web component that does not substitute for class time. During the fall and spring semesters, six faculty teach 13 sections through traditional lecture (three 1-hour or two 1.5-hour periods per week) and test formats, supported by three graduate assistants who assist with exams and grading. Some faculty have incorporated Web-based materials as a classroom supplement. Instructor-student and student-student interaction is consistent with that of a large lecture course. Although data collected on traditional lecture sections during fall 1998 show a success rate (a grade of C or better) of 78%, the number of students who must retake the course is over 100 per year.
Two specific problems need to be addressed:
The Redesigned Course
The course will be redesigned to substitute Web-based, asynchronous, modular learning for 67% of the lecture time, thereby reducing the number of lectures per week from three to one. A pilot phase will first reduce lecture time by 50%. Course redesign not only will enhance the learning experience and increase the success rate for students but also will address the very real space and related cost problems of the university.
The learning goals for the redesigned course will require students to
To achieve these learning goals, the course will replace classroom time with interactive Web-based modules. The modules will motivate students to become active learners and will encourage critical thinking and analysis. The modules will use existing, stable Web sites, many of which are administered by state or national governments, to provide dynamic course content. Examples of potential course activities include self-paced, auto-graded quizzes and games with instant feedback; interactive, Web-based election simulations; and test banks to review and prepare for exams. Web-based teaching methods, tools, and learner activities will make the course learner-centered and enhance the development of a community of learners.
To promote collaborative learning, instructors will divide students into groups of five to eight for activities with discussion components, thereby creating a small-class atmosphere and learning communities within the larger class setting. Examples of potential group activities include role-plays, simulations, case studies, and collaborative writing and peer review of research and writing projects. Within this environment, faculty and GTAs will provide mentoring and tutorial support for technology-challenged students.
Traditional Course Structure
Redesigned Course Structure
In summary, the redesigned course will implement the following changes:
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