|Program in Course Redesign
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona)
Cal Poly plans to redesign General Psychology, a course taken by approximately 36 percent of students during their college careers; six percent of those students retake the course at least once. At least 750 additional students request the course each year but are turned away because of classroom space limitations. Prior to 1995, General Psychology at Cal Poly was taught in a traditional lecture format with 30 sections, each containing 50 students, and served 1500 students annually. To experiment with serving larger numbers of students, the course was redesigned during the 1995-96 academic year. One mediated section of the course, serving 120 students, has been offered each quarter with the rest of the sections taught in the traditional format. Cal Poly plans to build on this prior work and redesign the entire course to serve 2250 students.
The current mediated version of the course is based on 18 videotaped content modules, each 55 minutes long. Course materials include a guidebook that provides additional depth on selected topics as well as a custom text. The use of video/audio streaming of content modules via the Internet and broadcast technology has reduced lecture time from 33 hours in the traditional course to two hours. Faculty members reinvested this time in labor-intensive tutorials, chat rooms and e-mail responses, which has not resulted in optimum cost savings, a problem that will be addressed in the new redesign.
The design team will re-edit and re-shoot segments of the modules to improve production values and incorporate updated material, providing all material in an asynchronous, on-demand format. Interactive, problem-based CD-ROM tutorials will replace faculty-led tutorials. In addition, the redesign will add Internet-based testing supervised by TAs in student computer laboratories. The use of Web-based and CD-ROM technologies will allow larger numbers of students to assimilate course content without the constraints of time and place and will encourage students to take control of their own learning and achievement levels. The team believes that this approach will appeal to a wider variety of learner types, improve student retention, and enable students to apply their knowledge to other situations.
A variety of assessment techniques will be used to compare student-learning outcomes, including a common general psychology exam, a problem-based learning tool, and traditional text/lecture based exams. The team will phase in successive elements of the course to allow for the isolation of different impacts. All of the pre-post measurements will be used with other data in a regression analysis to identify predictors of success or failure. The team will track the time students spend and performance (grades and retention rates) to determine whether the redesigned course reduces DWF rates. A pre-post technology usage questionnaire will assess students’ gains in technology proficiencies as a function of the course. Student questionnaires and focus groups will be used to identify unanticipated results and needs for additional training or course modifications.
Cal Poly Pomona’s ability to offer large sections is limited by the seating capacity of their classrooms; the campus has only seven rooms that accommodate more than 100 students. By eliminating seat-time constraints, the redesign will allow the university to increase the number of students served from 1500 in the traditional course to 2250 while reducing costs. Each section will accommodate 450 students per section rather than 50 students. The use of computer-based testing and CD-ROM tutorials will allow the university to reduce faculty hours significantly and replace them with less expensive TA hours. As a result, the cost-per-student will move from $135 to $21, a reduction of 84%.
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