The University of New Mexico
How would you assess the transferability of the re-design approach you employed to new subject areas or disciplines?
Introductory psychology presents the student with a great amount of information, which is factual, theoretical, conceptual, and applied. Successful completion of mastery quizzes lies at the heart of our approach. We are fortunate in using a text that is accompanied by a test bank with questions that attempt to assess both factual and conceptual knowledge. To some extent, sophomore level courses in psychology are elaborations and extensions of chapters in the introductory course. As such, the current approach could be used to teach brain and behavior, learning, cognition, social, developmental, personality, and so on. The studios would allow for discussion and interaction.
Other disciplines where this approach might fit would include, for example, introductory courses in sociology, anthropology, political science, philosophy, and history. The organization of these courses is often similar to psychology, and use of WebCT or Blackboard is not uncommon in these disciplines. Successful transferability would depend on the depth of a particular textbook's test-item file and how readily it could be formatted for Web use. We have discussed or have been approached to discuss our experiences in psychology with faculty from philosophy and sociology, as well as faculty from biology and physics.
How are you disseminating the redesign among your colleagues?
We are relating our progress to faculty both individually and in group meetings. Our colleagues are very interested in what we are finding since they soon will be teaching these students in sophomore level and above classes. One concern is that students will not understand conceptual information, which we address by reviewing the nature of questions selected for the mastery quizzes, many of which test for conceptual understanding. Another concern is that we may be neglecting our better students, but most students appear to benefit from this approach; more students get As and Bs, for example, than was previously the case, and we are covering more material than was typical in past years.
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