Labor Saving Techniques

Tallahassee Community College

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?

  • Content Delivery via the Web

The development of the course Web site has provided several labor-saving mechanisms, vastly improving both the speed and ease of communication between faculty and students and eliminating redundancy. The Web site allowed for the posting of assignments with examples and directions, announcements, access to resources including library tutorials and skills review modules.

  • Computer-based Skills Review

Skills review on the course Web site (although this is less than ideal at present) and review materials on Writing Center computers assisted in skills tutoring. The time spent by Writing Center staff was documented during the spring 2002 semester and will be documented again for comparison during the fall 2002 semester.

  • Electronic Responses to Students' Drafts

Outsourcing electronic response to students' mid-stage drafts to Smarthinking and local electronic responders saved faculty time and increased quality. SMARTHINKING responds to three mid-stage drafts for each student. The faculty and students were universally pleased with the process and the results. Submission forms allowed students to specify details of the assignment and to select narrow areas of rhetoric or usage for the tutor's supportive commentary.

Since the students routed the tutorial comments along with the drafts directly to the instructor, the instructor was in the electronic loop of the commentary. This was a feature that the faculty particularly appreciated. Both the students and the faculty reported consistent 24-hour turnaround, valuable suggestions for improved writing, and supportive commentary and felt that the responders were highly capable and professional.

The sections using SMARTHINKING had a 60.5% success rate compared to 54.2% for those that used local e-responders. The redesign team has learned a great deal about process and principles of e-mailed draft commentary from SMARTHINKING and careful consideration will be given to training local e-responders to maintain quality and consistency. Despite the expense (which is approximately three times the cost of local responders), the pilot instructors and the Pew team fully support the continuing the contract with SMARTHINKING.

  • Creating and grading assignments

All writing assignments are posted on the Web site with directions and prompts to help students get started. The scoring rubric and what it means is also posted on the Web site. Students and faculty get immediate feedback on grammar and reading quizzes accessed through the site. Response to library skills assessments administered through the Texas Information Literacy Tutorial (TILT) is received electronically. It is questionable as to whether this is labor saving as it results in individual e-mails.

December 2002 Update:

  • The Web site, which allows for the posting of assignments with examples and directions, announcements, access to resources including library tutorials and skills review modules, continues to be a major labor saving technique and is particularly helpful for faculty teaching more than one section. It has vastly improved both the speed and ease of communication between faculty and students and eliminated redundancy.
  • There continues to be a variety of skill-building opportunities through the Web site as well as through the Writing Center and students have several choices for addressing review of grammar skills. review materials were included on the Web site during fall, 2002. However, while these are easily accessible from labs and classrooms on campus, multiple access issues still exist for students trying to access these modules from home. The modules furnished through the publisher are easily accessible from any location. These provide good opportunities for drill and practice but little opportunity for concept development. Given the minimal improvement in English Language Skills (at least on the CLAST facsimile), there is still a good deal of work to be done in this area. It is partly a technology issue and partly a student responsibility issue, but both have to be addressed.
  • The staff in the Writing Center is collecting data again during the spring 2003 semester and this will be compared to the data gathered last spring during the pilot. We did not gather this data during the fall as originally intended but decided to wait until more faculty were consistently implementing the redesign
  • Students and faculty continue to appreciate the time for small group work and individual conferencing. The redesign faculty members are now comfortably using the discussion board as a forum for assisting students and, with careful guidelines, are using it as an avenue for students to respond to each other's work.
  • SMARTHINKING and local e-responders continue to provide valuable assistance. Four of the five faculty collecting data in the fall used SMARTHINKING, and both students and faculty are extremely pleased with the service, both in terms of quality and response time. If approved by the Board, the proposed budget for next year will provide access to SMARTHINKING for all Composition students.
  • Web site discussion board continues to be rated highly by faculty and students.
  • Faculty members' time-on-task logs was not addressed during the fall, but left until spring 2003. The redesign team members are keeping logs that can be used to assess savings in terms of time. This should be more accurate than if the data had been collected during the fall as this is true implementation and new features are not being tested.



Program in Course Redesign Quick Links:

Program In Course Redesign Main Page...

Lessons Learned:
Round 1...
Round II...
Round III...

Round I...
Round II...
Round III...

Project Descriptions:
Sorted by Discipline...
Sorted by Model...
Sorted by Success...
Sorted by Grant Rounds...