University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
How would you assess the transferability of the re-design approach you employed to new subject areas or disciplines?
The use of Mallard for certain kinds of exercises is transferable to a host of other disciplines. At UIUC, we use Mallard is courses as diverse as XXXX. The integration of Mallard with Excel is transferable to a host of other courses. Indeed the integration of work in Excel with the commercial course management systems (WebCT, CourseInfo) seems like a natural. The specific content developed in this project would be transferable only to other institutions that run Mallard.
The projects also appear to be a good way to get the students involved. Any course that has the students using numerical data of some form would seem amenable to this approach, as long as the data analysis is a significant component of the learning. It is possible to automate the assessment of the data analysis, which is a significant economy on the labor input, allowing for a team-based approach.
How are you disseminating the re-design among your colleagues?
We are doing down the road tracking of students in their subsequent business courses that have a statistical component. Ultimately those data will form the basis of a published study and perhaps several published studies. But so far all we have collected is baseline data that is in effect documenting the consequences of the old way of teaching the Economic Statistics sequence. It will be some time before we have sufficient data to warrant a publication.
A year ago we had plans to elicit the opinions of the down-the-road instructors in going about the redesign. And indeed, in arranging the down-the-road tracking, we had individual discussions with each of these faculty about how they used probability and statistics in their courses. We ultimately felt that bringing them into the redesign would create a "too many cooks" problem. But they are clearly interested in the outcome of this project. So it will be critical to learn whether they see any change in the students and if they do to use them as credible points of dissemination.
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