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University of Hawaii System

Course Title: Ethnobotany
Will McClatchey

Status: This project originated as part of a collaborative program between NCAT and the University of Hawaii System, 2004 – 2006. Due to a variety of factors, this project has not yet been completed. The project plan serves as a good example of how to think about redesigning a large-enrollment course. For more information, contact Hae Okimoto at or the project contact listed above.

Project Plan:
Introductory Ethnobotany is currently taught at several UH campuses and is taken by a wide range of students. Currently enrollment in the course is limited because of faculty time constraints and, in some cases, classroom size. About 300 students take the course each fall and another 100 students take the course each spring and summer. While instructors think that the course is best taught using hands-on learning and face-to-face interactions with students, most of their time is spent delivering lectures to cover course material with low interaction. In some cases, this is due to the large size of the class.

The primary goal in the redesign is how to serve more students and spend more quality time with each student without increasing the workload of the instructors. Secondary goals include 1) standardizing key course content across the campuses and among instructors to improve consistency and quality, 2) improving the curriculum resources available to each instructor, and 3) increasing the number of sections offered to allow more students to take the course.

Using the Supplemental Model, five UH institutions will collaborate in the redesign: The University of Hawaii at Manoa, Kapiolani Community College, Leeward Community College, Maui Community College and Windward Community College. Lectures and other non-interactive presentations will be converted to videos delivered via the Internet. Exams will also be given via the Internet. These changes will allow class time to be used more creatively, depending on the circumstances of the campus. Some instructors will maintain the same number and size of sections but utilize the face-to-face time for more interactive lessons. Other instructors will divide large lecture sections into three small groups that will meet once a week during the times that previously were used for lectures. Overall course preparation and delivery will be shared among the five campuses. These changes will not only increase instructor efficiency but also raise the overall quality of the course by drawing on the diverse set of skills and knowledge of the combined faculty. The multi-campus offering of the course will increase articulation among campuses due to the shared use of a common core of content.

The impact of the redesign will be assessed primarily by using comparative exam questions that have been used in the last two to three years. Since students will be provided with the same content but in a new format, the same exam questions can be used to compare learning in the redesigned format with that of the traditional format. Because instructors will not have to spend time providing redundant lectures, they will be more able to interact with students, reinforcing the lessons through these interactions. The UH faculty expect to see improvements in exam scores as well as in the quality of essay content that are part of exams.

The redesign is expected to achieve cost savings by increasing the number of students in most of the courses and reducing the time commitment needed by instructors. The cost-per-student as a weighted average for all five institutions is expected to drop from $128 in the traditional course to $65 in the redesign.


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