Impact on Students
University of Southern Maine
In the redesign, did students learn more, less or the same compared to the traditional format?
The course redesign resulted in significant improvements in students’ overall understanding of course content as measured by pre- and post-course assessment of important concepts taught in the course. Pilot data indicated a statistically significant (.001 level) 10% improvement in scores on this measure. All classes also achieved statistically significant (.001 level) higher average scores at the end of the semester, indicating both that the instrument is valid and that students learned something over the semester. Those in the computer-enhanced course did significantly better (an average score of 76.7on the post-test) than those in the traditionally taught classes (an average score of 67.3). Test scores have also increased steadily. Importantly, neither the highest nor the lowest grades achieved on these tests were altered by the redesign. This suggests that cheating is not a factor and that there have been few changes in students in the classes since the redesign was initiated.
Grades on exams have also shown a significant increase since the implementation of the course redesign. Average (mean and median) grades on each of the three tests administered each semester by one of the instructors were about 10% higher than they were before the course redesign.
Other Impacts on Students
A smaller percentage of students in the redesigned course received failing grades (Fail, Withdraw, Incomplete). In traditional sections of the course, about 28% of the students failed, withdrew, or got an incomplete. This value dropped to 19% in the redesign. This reduction in failure rate is consistent with the progress noted in exam scores and on the assessment of conceptual understanding. This improvement in the grades of more academically challenged students may be partially due to the fact that students in the redesigned course could more easily monitor their overall progress than could their peers. When asked if this was a useful feature, 80% of the students in the redesigned course indicated that it was.
Students in redesigned sections reported spending more time studying for Introductory Psychology (typically 3–5 hours per week in contrast to 1–3 hours, depending on the section) than they did for other introductory classes and for traditionally taught sections. This difference was highly significant (.001 level).
Students indicated that they prefer the redesigned course over the traditional course. Redesigned sections have consistently been rated more highly on such measures as overall evaluation of the class and of the instructor. For example, students were more likely to report that assignments and tests were returned more promptly and that the grading procedures were fairer.
Program in Course Redesign Quick Links: