Improving the Quality of Student Learning
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Based on available data about learning outcomes from the course pilot, what were the impacts of re-design on learning and student development?
A focus group that was done near the end of the spring 2000 semester indicated that the students find the workload quite high and the material fairly difficult. In general, we were still not solving the "see the forests for the trees" problem. The main explanation is that there was still too much content in the course, so we did some serious pruning in summer 2000. The students liked the Mallard part of the projects. Even though that was hard work for them, they thought it was valuable. The write-ups, on the other hand, were less highly regarded.
Many of the students still view this as an obstacle course: don't let it hurt the GPA but otherwise spend a minimum amount of time and effort on the course. For those students, the optional online materials have no benefit. For the more serious students, those materials were quite valuable.
A focus group from fall 2000 said they continue to find the course difficult and a lot of work, but their attitudes about the course are much better. Students feel they are now understanding the concepts. The students continue to value the work done in Mallard, but they are also reporting now that the report-writing has value. This contrasts sharply with the earlier findings.
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