|Program in Course Redesign
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign plans is redesigning Economic Statistics II, the second of a two-semester sequence, which enrolls about 1600 students annually. All majors in the College of Business Administration and all economics and finance majors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences take the course. The Economics Department offers four large lecture sections and thirty-nine TA-led smaller sections annually. TAs monitor the class Web site and manage e-mail communications. Students attend two lectures and one recitation per week, and they receive computer-based responses to homework and quizzes.
The course faces three academic problems. First, subject coverage in the course is not adequate preparation for other business courses and real business experiences. Second, students do not retain much of the material for use in other courses. Finally, the final project does not offer a meaningful learning experience for students as conceived in the traditional course format. Teaching assistants also express displeasure at having to grade the final project, which they also consider an inadequate learning activity.
Course redesign involves reducing the lectures from three to two per week and making the remaining lecture optional, as course material will be moved online for asynchronous access. To address the problem of subject coverage, students will work in teams on concrete business problems, using computer-based packages for data analysis. Data analysis will be assessed by computer-based calculation and assessment packages in order to provide rapid feedback. Faculty and TA roles will shift from presenting information to doing demonstrations and explaining examples. TAs will staff online office hours for nearly 24 x 7 coverage. Student projects will stretch throughout the semester and integrate directly with quizzes and other coursework.
Making the course less theoretical and more hands-on will enhance quality. All of the changes more fully mirror actual business processes and applications. As students become more active in learning the material, and as faculty, TA, and peer support for their learning increases through the redesign, their understanding and retention of the material should improve. Once the Economics Statistics II course is fully redesigned, the redesign will be reproduced in Economics Statistics I to ensure a quality learning experience in both of the courses in the sequence.
The impact of the course redesign on student learning will be assessed by comparing traditional and redesigned sections including student performance on exams. A questionnaire will be administered to students in upper-division business courses to assess their understanding of simple statistical concepts after having taken the course in the traditional and redesigned versions. Professors' assessments of student preparation will be also compared. Additionally, data on student achievement, student satisfaction, and teacher assistant satisfaction in the redesigned course will be collected, supplemented by data from student focus groups.
Redesign will result in a reduction of the cost-per-student in Economic Statistics II from about $237 to $159, an annual cost reduction of approximately $124,800. When the redesign is extended to Economic Statistics I, the annual cost reduction will be approximately $249,600.
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