University of Idaho
Looking back on the course pilot itself, what worked best?
The students adjusted to the learning environment much faster than we had expected, leading to better than anticipated initial improvement over the historical performance. The on-line lectures were a huge success, and an interesting invention by some of the focus group teachers enhanced that experience significantly. Through conversations with students and observations in the Polya center, some of the focus group teachers working with small groups of students learned to enhance that experience significantly by providing students with a worksheet to help the students create a record of their learning experience for future reference. This worksheet was designed to promote an understanding of the specific learning goals associated with the lessons and worked very well. The cadre of focus group teachers functioned extremely well as a community of teachers contributing substantially to the success of the students.
What worked least well?
One of the goals we have for our students is for them to benefit from membership in communities of learners. We tried several strategies to promote and nourish the creation of such communities but with only limited success. We are trying some new approaches to this problem this semester because we know that for many students the social aspect of the learning experience is crucial.
Another difficulty was the inability of the database developer to produce a useable and accurate database. One of the goals for the new learning environment was to provide each student with individualized responses; thus, the database needed to adjust each time a student worked on the math course. This tracking and management of student flow was major undertaking. Developing a database with that flexibility was a larger project than anticipated with 1500 students in the first weeks of the course. Solving this problem is underway and now the database developer has linked the course database to the University’s Banner system. He is also working in creating the virtual Polya so that the database works when students are not in the lab.
What are the biggest challenges you face in moving from the course pilot to the project's next phase?
We have now moved to a full implementation of the course re-design. Scaling up from the summer 2001 experience to the full implementation in fall 2002 required an enormous amount of energy.
Program in Course Redesign Quick Links: