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Sustainability

University of Dayton

Will the redesign be sustained now that the grant period is over?

Challenges remain regarding student perceptions of fully online courses at a residential campus. In fall 2001, The University of Dayton implemented all sections of psychology as fully online. While success rates for the class were similar to traditional sections, the drop rate was higher and the perceived attractiveness of the online class suffered. Two issues that emerged were (1) the wisdom of asking incoming, first year students to participate in a fully distributed, online course and (2) the consequences of effectively forcing all Introductory Psychology students to participate in the online course. During fall 2001, students could not opt into a traditional section of the course. Numerous students complained on the end-of-semester evaluations and argued that students should be given a choice. In addition, several student advisors argued that a completely distributed, online course was inappropriate for incoming students.

In response, the department of psychology instituted a “traditional” delivery option for the course in winter 2002 term. Introductory Psychology Online was offered in two sections (151 students), and the other two sections (209 students) were taught in the traditional manner. Another deciding factor was the presence of specific faculty members who wanted to teach the course in the traditional manner. This decision was made after extensive discussion with the department chair and department faculty members. In the fall 2002 term, 59 students were taught using the redesign and 496 students were taught in the traditional format.

These changes have led the design team to reconsider the course design for fall 2003. The goal for fall 2003 will be to offer students a variety of course delivery options ranging from fully online to a modified classroom-based experience. This design will fully leverage the online resources developed for this course.

The team believes that elements of the redesign model such as the collaborative learning techniques are highly transferable and scalable, and many other faculty members are now experimenting with the same approach. Similar online courses are, in fact, being constructed on campus. The department of communication is in the process of launching a redesigned, online communications course; the English department is contemplating developing an introductory composition course; and several math faculty members are working on calculus courses. The College of Arts and Sciences has won an Ohio Learning Network Learning Communities Grant to develop eight courses as distributed learning classes for an accelerated degree program, and the psychology redesign team is consulting on their development.

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