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Miami University

Course Title: Great Ideas in Western Music
Effie Papanikolaou

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:
Miami University (MU) will redesign Great Ideas in Western Music, an introductory music appreciation course offered at both the main campus and at branch campuses. Great Ideas in Western Music is During the last two years, enrollment has exceeded 1,200 students in 37 sections. Greater enrollment is limited by the number of full-time faculty available to teach the course. While using more adjuncts is one possibility, this option has led to inconsistent quality and content coverage in the past. MU seeks to: 1) shift from the traditional large, lecture-based format to a more active learning environment, 2) increase enrollment to meet demand, 3) ensure greater quality and consistency across all sections and campuses, and 4) decrease the cost of instruction.

MU’s will use the replacement model in its redesign. Instead of three meetings per week, face-to-face class time will be reduced to one large meeting with the instructor and one small meeting led by undergraduate learning assistants. Students will complete content modules online ahead of the first class meeting as well as ongoing quizzes. New models and research on the importance of understanding how music functions as a cultural product will be part of the redesign, thus connecting the study of music with political science, anthropology, philosophy, history, literature, art and a host of other disciplines. Learning strategies will turn the classroom into an engaging interactive workshop instead of a lecture hall since course content will have already been delivered online. All hand grading by the instructor will be eliminated; project-based and computer-graded assessment methods that motivate students to work harder to improve their grades will substitute.

This marriage of reorganized content and heavy use of Web-based project modules will also allow the course to be taught to many more students at lower cost. The redesign will also achieve greater consistency across campuses, more student engagement and improved learning outcomes. It will free the faculty member to do more interactive work in the classroom and engage in activities that will motivate the students to become lifelong learners.

Student learning will be assessed and compared by using a common final exam in both the traditional and redesigned sections of the course. Students will also take an assessment developed by the MU General Education Council focused on the specific learning expected from a general education course such as critical thinking, understanding contexts and engaging with other learners. This instrument will provide additional understanding of what students have gained in the course.

MU has made quality improvements in previous revisions of the course; the focus of this redesign is to accommodate more students more consistently. The cost-per-student is projected to decline from $129 to $27. Enrollment is anticipated to increase about 20% in order to accommodate students who were historically not able to take the course.


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