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Cleveland State University

Course Title: Introduction to Urban Affairs
Michael Wells and Caryn Euker

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:
The Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University (CSU) will redesign Introduction to Urban Affairs. In addition to being a required course for Urban Studies majors, this course meets multiple general education requirements, making it a popular undergraduate course for all CSU undergraduates. Each section of Introduction to Urban Affairs meets four hours per week in a one-, two-, or three-day-per-week format. From fall 2002 through summer 2004, the course enrolled 1,639 students, averaging 230 students per semester.

During the past three semesters, 14 part-time instructors have taught the course. Each instructor designed the course according to his or her liking, usually using some combination of outside class assignments, a midterm, and a final exam. This lack of consistency concerns the faculty in the College; they have made a collective decision to redesign the course using a common textbook, online resources, exams, and assignments to provide consistent course objectives and instructional formats for all students taking this course.

Using the replacement model, the redesigned course will move core course content online. Face-to-face classroom hours will be reduced from 60 to 15 and will feature tenured faculty “guest lecturers” offering their expertise on specific topics that follow the textbook topics. Lectures will highlight and showcase the College and its faculty as well as introduce students to the multidisciplinary nature of urban studies. The online component will include supplemental readings, learning activities, and assessment. It will be facilitated by one full-time faculty member and one graduate student, who will serve as a course assistant.

The redesign will achieve a high student impact by returning tenured faculty to the undergraduate classroom; eliminating the use of part-time instructors; reducing multiple sections to two lecture sections and one online section; establishing consistent learning objectives and assessments; providing consistent content; and, increasing enrollment.

Student learning will be assessed by comparing common final and midterm exams in both the pilot and the full implementation of the redesigned course. Student demographics will be analyzed to determine if grades are correlated to specific group characteristics.

CSU’s redesign is projected to reduce the cost-per-student from $84 to $21, a 75% decline by eliminating part-time instructors and increasing enrollment. Faculty will also develop reusable content that will decrease preparation time in repeated future offerings. The redesign will release much needed space that can be used for other courses. Students in this introductory course will have the opportunity to engage with senior faculty and will be exposed to a variety of different perspectives, all at a reduced cost.


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