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Course Development Issues

University of Idaho

To what extent have you been able to use previously developed materials in your re-design instead of creating new materials?

We have used software developed by Addison Wesley and Prentice Hall to provide our students with an interactive tutorial and for a shell to deliver the tests. The tests that came with the test delivery shell were full of errors and, in our judgment, had many poorly stated questions so we wrote our own tests to be delivered by the shell. We created our own collection of on-line lectures.

What kinds of activities took up the most time in your course development effort?

We spent a great deal of time, and much more time than we had anticipated, trying to manage the flow of data. When motivating and counseling students, it is crucial to have accurate information available to them on their progress in the course and the degree to which they are meeting their commitments.

Have students been directly involved in the re-design process?

Right from the beginning we made efforts to get the student voice on what was working, what was not and what we could do to enhance their experience. We did this by asking them questions, observing what they choose to do and what they avoid and by analyzing the relationship between student success and participation in various aspects of the design. We have an assessor working directly in the Polya center to perform the formative evaluation we need to successfully apply student input to the continued development of the center. Also, each week our students meet in a focus group designed to problem solve student learning issues with respect to the course and build the sense of a learning community. The focus group teachers meet once a week to discuss what they have learned from their students and to find ways to improve the learning experience.

What kinds of support for your project have you been receiving from your department or the institution more broadly?

We have enjoyed great vertical support for our project within the university and at the state level. The administration at the University of Idaho has invested heavily into this project and has been supportive of our efforts at every turn. Whether it has been to solve a physical plant problem or a scheduling problem or anything else, we have received the cooperation of every branch of the administration. Overall, the Mathematics faculty has been very supportive of the project. In fact, the department has decided to apply some of the methodologies involved in this project to the enhancement of our Calculus courses. We have obtained external funding to do this over the next couple of years.

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