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Who We Are

The National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides leadership in using information technology to redesign learning environments to produce better learning outcomes for students at a reduced cost to the institution. NCAT is headed by Dr. Carol A. Twigg, an internationally recognized expert in the field. The NCAT staff has extensive experience in higher education as faculty members, administrators and researchers in both traditional and non-traditional higher education environments.

Initial Proof-of-Concept

Building on her experience as vice president of Educom (now Educause), Dr. Twigg created the Program in Course Redesign (PCR) with the support of an $8.8 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. From 1999 to 2004, NCAT worked with 30 diverse two- and four-year colleges (50,000 students annually) to prove that it is possible to improve quality and reduce cost in higher education. Course redesign using information technology is key to achieving both outcomes.

The results of the PCR were exceptional. Twenty-five of thirty course redesign projects showed significant increases in student learning; the other five showed learning equivalent to traditional formats. Of the twenty-four projects that measured retention, eighteen reported a noticeable decrease in drop-failure-withdrawal rates, ranging from 10 to 20%, as well as higher course-completion rates. Most dramatically, all thirty institutions reduced their costs by 37% on average, ranging from 20% to 77%, and produced a collective annual savings of about $3 million.

NCAT Program Outcomes

To date, NCAT has conducted four competitive national programs funded by private foundations and government agencies. Each national program has sought to demonstrate a particular aspect of improving learning and reducing cost. Full descriptions of our national programs can be found by following the links on our home page: Program in Course Redesign (PCR), Roadmap to Redesign (R2R), Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) and Changing the Equation. NCAT has also conducted six state/system-based programs (funded by the state or system partner). A total of 195 redesign projects have been initiated, 80% of which were completed. These redesigns impact about 250,000 students annually.

Of the 156 completed projects, 72% improved student learning outcomes; 28% showed equivalent student learning. Overall, these redesigns reduced their instructional costs by 34% on average, ranging from 5% to 81%. Other positive outcomes included increased course-completion rates, improved retention, better student attitudes toward the subject matter and increased student and faculty satisfaction with the new mode of instruction.

Advancing the Mission

Today, many organizations and companies offer technology-based solutions for streamlining academic and administrative systems, as well as products that enhance the educational experience. However, NCAT is the only resource recognized for translating its vision for achieving improved learning outcomes at a reduced cost into a proven track record of success. NCAT furthers its mission of creating lasting change in higher education through a number of initiatives designed to provide research-based solutions, expertise and support to those interested in improving quality, increasing access, and using resources more effectively.

New to Course Redesign? A list of recommended reading to get you started.