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Impact on Students

Northern Arizona University

In the redesign, did students learn more, less or the same compared to the traditional format?

Improved Learning

In fall 2002, two redesigned sections were offered and the remaining sections were taught using the traditional lecture style. Common final exams worth 250 points were given; the results indicate that students in the redesign sections did somewhat better (173.5 vs. 153.3 for median scores and 162.9 vs. 153.8 for mean scores). These differences were not statistically significant.


Redesigned Traditional
High 249 245
UQ 206 200
Median 173.5 153.25
LQ 122 122.75
Low 39 28



Mean 162.9 153.8
St. dev. 51.7 54.9
N 44 100

These results were inconclusive since the final examination had many questions worth 10-15 points and no grading rubric was used to ensure consistency. A more careful analysis of the two delivery methods (including an item analysis unavailable for these data) would be required before any sure claims can be made about the success of the redesign in improving student learning.

Improved Retention

The DF rate for traditional sections was 36.1% compared to a rate of 36.9% for redesigned sections of College Algebra for the period fall 2001-spring 2003. Respective DFW rates are 45.7% and 46.5%. These differences are not statistically significant.

Another measure of learning is retention of material from pre-final (midterm) course exams to the final exam. For traditional sections, the mean change from average of midterm exams to final exam was a drop of 4.5%, while for redesigned sections, this mean change was a drop of 3.5%. Though this is slightly encouraging insofar as the drop was less for the redesigned sections, there is no significant difference between the two methods in this measure.

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