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Course Development Issues

The Ohio State University

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

The previously identified materials proved crucial to the success of the computer labs in the pilot. However, producing minor variations in activities to make them better suited for specific learning styles was necessary in many cases. The team was required to develop some new large group activities, especially for the sessions geared toward active and sequential learners.

December 2002 Update: As more options have been added to the buffet in subsequent quarters, there has been an increasing need to develop new learning-style-specific activities.

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

The instructional team implementing the pilot spent substantial time in planning activities for specific learning styles and in coordinating their efforts. Developing the technological infrastructure for the course also took substantial time. This was expected.

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

Student surveys and focus groups were very helpful in planning the pilot offering. The number of students who agreed to participate in the focus groups when invited was disappointing. Three reminders, free dinner, and a $10 gift certificate to the bookstore produced a mere 10% response.

December 2002 Update: To meet this challenge, the team developed a process for running an "e-mail focus group." Students were sent e-mail with a simple question likely to generate a response. Students that responded were then sent a follow-up question in direct response to their message, asking for a reaction to comments made by other students. These messages were then followed by a series of generally lively e-mails over the next week. Approximately 60% of students have responded to these initial e-mails and, once engaged, essentially every student provided the kind of detailed discussion the project had sought from the original focus groups.

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

The project has relied on strong support and collaborations with a variety of departmental and university resources as expected in the original proposal. The Teaching Enhanced Learning and Research group, the Office of Faculty and TA development, and the Mathematics and Statistics Learning Center are all directly collaborating in the project. The Department of Statistics, the Office of the Provost, and the Human Resources office have played a continuing supportive role.

Two issues that we had failed to adequately plan for were handled easily with the cooperation of other university units. First, the Department of Mathematics was cooperative in shifting its classes that share the same lecture halls to accommodate the unusual needs of the buffet strategy. Secondly, the staff of the Institutional Review Board at Ohio State was very helpful in working with the redesign effort to gain the appropriate approval in that regard.

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