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Labor Saving Techniques

University of Dayton

Given that a major goal of the course re-design project is to substitute technology "capital" for faculty teaching "labor," in what particular aspects of the course and its delivery are you finding that you are able to do this?

We have been successful in the following areas:

  • We have achieved a great deal of success in encouraging and monitoring student-to-student interaction (versus student-to-instructor interaction). Four times during the semester, students read and comment on a brief news article related to psychology (e.g., sleep loss, violence on TV). Their comments are shared with a team of other students and, together, the team collaborates on a group "essay," which is published on the course Web site.
  • We have been successful in the area of delivering content, all of which is now accessible on our Web site. This entailed considerable labor initially. Faculty had to compose, record, and integrate over 25 hours of lecture material. Once completed, only a minimum amount of additional labor has been necessary in order to improve the lectures and keep them current.
  • In addition to providing opportunities for direct contact with the instructor and course mentors, we assist students through online self-help quizzes and tutorials, which are distributed throughout the course modules.

December 2001 Update: During the fall 2001 full implementation, six undergraduate "mentors" were used to support the collaborative writing assignments described above. These upper-level majors were supervised by a faculty member and replaced the two graduate assistants who managed the collaborative writing assignments during the winter 2001 pilot. The undergraduate mentors worked approximately 10 hours per week at a rate of $8 per hour. Mentors were responsible for facilitating online discussions, scheduling online chats among student team members, and tracking student participation. The use of undergraduate mentors was a great success. Student evaluation data indicated that students enjoyed the collaborative assignments and found their mentors helpful. This mentor program will be carried forward in the winter 2002 semester.

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