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Columbus State Community College

Course Title: The History of Western Civilization
Tom Erney

Status: This project originated as part of a collaborative program between NCAT and the Ohio Learning Network, 2004 – 2006. NCAT’s role was to introduce the course redesign methodology to Ohio institutions and assist them in developing a project plan. NCAT was not involved in project implementation; consequently, the project’s status is unknown. For more information, contact George Steele at or the project contact listed above. The project plan serves as a good example of how to think about redesigning a large-enrollment course.

Project Plan:
Columbus State Community College (CSCC) will redesign The History of Western Civilization, a popular humanities course with a large and growing enrollment. Each quarter, CSCC offers approximately 34 sections of ~32 students each; the annual enrollment is more than 3,100 students. The History of Western Civilization is a core liberal arts course and applies toward the degree program requirements of both associate in arts/sciences and the full array of associate of applied sciences majors. It has been difficult for the department to find a consistent supply of qualified faculty. Thus, it has been hard to offer enough sections to meet demand and quite a few students have been “closed out.”

CSCC’s redesign plan has several goals. In addition to the addressing the difficulties of finding qualified faculty by increasing capacity, the redesigned course will ensure consistent content and assessment. A greater variety of teaching and learning approaches will provide students the opportunity to learn in ways that best match their learning preferences.

Currently, most sections are offered face-to-face using a traditional lecture model; a few Web-based sections are also offered each term. Using the online model, the redesigned course will employ instructional technologies that speak to alternative learning styles such as using video-streaming and 3-D imagery (for example, historical architecture) for visual learners and audio (for example, music and clips of theatrical works) for auditory learners. The rich course content will incorporate not only textual material but also exposure to works of art, architecture, music, theater and dance from their origins in the Ancient World through the Fifteenth Century. Each online section will enroll a minimum of 140 learners per section. The redesign will incorporate elements that emphasize learner-to learner interaction such as collaborative learning assignments. Students will respond weekly to each other’s essays and commentaries.

Student learning will be assessed by comparing course grades in parallel sections of the traditional and redesigned course using common criteria established in the departments. Learning outcomes, syllabi, teaching materials, and exams will be standardized across all sections to ensure consistency of analysis.

The cost-per-student is projected to decline from $49 to $34, a decrease of 31% by increasing the number of students each term. The use of teaching assistants will foster greater student interaction while helping to control costs. The online model will reduce demands on campus space, helping to resolve another institutional constraint. Finally, CSU expects to increase retention by 5% as another way to address demand by reducing the number of students who must take the course again.



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