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The Learning MarketSpace, January 2009

A quarterly electronic newsletter of the National Center for Academic Transformation highlighting ongoing examples of redesigned learning environments using technology and examining issues related to their development and implementation.











Offering perspectives on issues and developments at the nexus of higher education and information

Increasing Success in Developmental Math: Following the NCAT Playbook

In the October 2007 and January 2008 issues of The Learning MarketSpace, we described the Developmental Studies Redesign Initiative launched by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to reform its remedial and developmental math and English curriculum. Its goal is to develop and implement a more effective and efficient assessment and delivery system that will increase completion rates for students, reduce the amount of time that students spend in remedial and developmental courses, and decrease the amount of fiscal resources that students dedicate to remedial and developmental education.

Tennessee is not alone in dealing with the issues of remedial and developmental education. A September 2008 report “Diploma to Nowhere” ( issued by the advocacy group, Strong American Schools, estimates “conservatively” that 43% of students at two-year colleges and almost 30% of students enrolled in four-year public institutions nationwide have taken a remedial course, costing an annual $2.5 billion.

The TBR is partnering with NCAT to develop new delivery structures by building on the successful models and lessons learned from NCAT’s Program in Course Redesign. The new models will streamline course delivery, leverage new learning technologies, increase the quality of learning and reduce the cost of instruction. In order to address the problems identified by the TBR and its member institutions, it became clear early on that modularizing the curriculum would be a key strategy. The development of better placement systems combined with shorter, more tailored remedial and developmental modules would enable students to save time and money by only enrolling in the modules that address their deficiencies.

Preliminary results from the TBR initiative are very positive. In this article, we will focus on the achievements at Cleveland State Community College, a two-year institution in southeastern Tennessee. While many good things have happened in a very short time period in Tennessee (the six TBR redesign projects have piloted their redesign plans during spring and fall 2008), the scope and accomplishment of Cleveland State’s redesign are truly extraordinary.

Cleveland State Community College

Cleveland State Community College enrolls approximately 2,100 FTE and 3,100 headcount annually. The college is redesigning its developmental math program, which consists of three courses: Basic Math, Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra. These courses have historically been offered primarily in a traditional lecture format, enrolling over 1200 students annually with ~200 students in Basic Math, ~500 students in Elementary Algebra, and ~500 students in Intermediate Algebra. Drop-Failure-Withdrawal (DFW) rates have averaged 45% in these courses. Elementary Algebra has presented the biggest obstacle to student success, often having DFW rates of more than 50%.

Cleveland State has redesigned these three math courses using the Emporium Model pioneered at Virginia Tech and replicated at many additional institutions. At CSCC, students meet one hour in class and two hours in a large computer lab. The one-hour class meetings are held in small labs (20 computers). Instructors do not lecture during class meetings. Instead, students work online and instructors help students individually. Instructors also review student progress and help students with their action plans for the coming week.

The large computer lab is available 54 hours per week to allow students to work at their convenience. The lab is staffed by instructors and peer tutors to provide individualized assistance to the students. The course material is organized into 10 to 12 modules, which students complete at the rate of one or more each week. All homework and testing is done online. Quizzes on each module can be re-taken multiple times until students display mastery. Students have the option of completing more than one module each week—i.e., they can move through each course at an accelerated pace. Students who complete a developmental math course before the end of the term are allowed to begin the next developmental course immediately.

The Impact of Redesign on Student Learning

As you read about these results, keep in mind that the first pilot of Cleveland State’s redesign occurred in spring 2008, only one year ago. Preparations for implementing the redesign occurred during summer and fall 2007. In addition, most NCAT redesigns focus on one course; Cleveland State simultaneously redesigned three developmental courses plus an additional three college-level courses. Finally, during this period Cleveland State experienced the usual start-up problems that occur with any large-scale redesign (technology glitches, registration problems, etc.) yet still produced outstanding results. This suggests that student achievement can increase even more as the redesign matures.

Student Learning Outcomes

Cleveland State assessed student learning outcomes by comparing common content items from selected departmental final exams administered in the traditional format during the previous five years to the redesigned sections in spring and fall 2008.

  • In Basic Math, the number of common test items answered correctly increased from 73.3% to 86.2% in fall 2008.
  • In Elementary Algebra, the number increased from 70.3% to 86.2% in spring 2008 and 83.8% in fall 2008.
  • In Intermediate Algebra, the number increased from77.3% to 90.1% in spring 2008 and 88.7% in fall 2008.

Course Completion Rates

Prior to the redesign, an average of 55% of students taking any developmental math course at Cleveland State earned a final grade of A. B or C. After the redesign during fall 2008, 72% earned an A, B or C, which represents a 31% increase in course completion rates.

  • Basic Math: Course completion rates improved from 52% to 65%, and the average grade increased from 1.92 to 2.53. Students in Basic Math were required to do a mountain of work, with the average student performing more than 1,000 exercises in the semester. This amount of work will serve to better prepare the students for success in their future math courses.
  • Elementary Algebra : Course completion rates improved from 52% to 70% in spring 2008 and 67% in fall 2008, and the average grade increased from 1.95 to 2.88 and 2.63 respectively.
  • Intermediate Algebra : Course completion rates improved from 56% to 71% in spring 2008 and 79% in fall 2008, and the average grade increased from 2.02 to 2.85 and 3.20 respectively.

Program Completion

The developmental math program consists of all three courses. Prior to the redesign, an average of 56% of students (N = 182) successfully exited the developmental math program. After the redesign during fall 2008, 268 students successfully exited the program, a 47% increase in moving students through developmental studies to college-level math courses.

Developmental Math Student Performance in College-Level Courses

One of the most important measures of success for any developmental math program is how well students perform in subsequent college-level math courses. Students at Cleveland State who took the redesigned developmental math courses primarily in spring 2008 were tracked to see how they performed in three college-level math courses during the fall semester.

The students who took the redesigned developmental math classes outperformed other students on every measure. Before the redesign, the completion rate of developmental students in college-level courses was 71% compared to a completion rate of 70% for other students. After the redesign, the completion rate of developmental students in college-level courses was 81% compared to a completion rate of 70% for other students. Redesign students also had higher average course grades (3.15 compared to 2.94). This is the first time developmental math students have done better than the other students at Cleveland State, and by a wide margin. These results suggest that the students exiting the redesigned developmental math program have been truly prepared to succeed in their college level math classes.

The increase in success cannot be attributed to “easier courses” as the overall success rates in the three college-level courses remained virtually unchanged at about 72% overall. In examining performance in the college-level courses individually, the Cleveland State team found that developmental math students performed equal to or better than the other students in each of the three courses. The developmental math students not only caught up to the other students in performance, but actually surpassed them.

Increased Student Success in College-Level Math Courses

Finally, the number of Cleveland State students enrolling in and passing a college-level math course during fall 2008 increased by 15% compared to the average of the past five years. During fall 2008, 281 of 391 students enrolled in and passed a college-level course vs. 245 of 340 students, the average of the previous five years. This is the result of higher enrollment in college-level courses rather than the result of higher passing rates, which overall remained at about 72%. This higher enrollment is due in large part to the increase in success rates in the developmental math program and the ability of students to exit the developmental math program and complete a college-level class in the same semester. More students completed Intermediate Algebra, the third course in the developmental sequence, in spring and summer 2008 than in previous years.

With a 47% increase in students exiting developmental math, the increase in enrollment in college-level courses should continue, and enrollment numbers for spring 2009 confirm this expectation. Enrollments in College Algebra, Introductory Statistics and Finite Math have increased from an average of 320 students in previous spring semesters to 480+ in the current term, an increase of approximately 50%.

Mobility within the Developmental Math Program

The traditional TBR developmental course sequence did not afford an opportunity for students to quickly get up to performance level in one stage so that they could move to the next stage sooner. Students were required to take an entire course even though they may have only been deficient in a portion of the topics. All students were required to learn at the same pace and with the same instructional strategies as the entire class.

Because learning in these skills-based courses occurs in specific increments and the time required to master each increment varies from person to person, the current three-course system lacked the flexibility that can lead to greater student success. Thus, an important goal of the TBR initiative was to allow students to start anywhere in the developmental course sequence based on their learning needs and progress though the content modules at their own pace, spending the amount of time needed to master the module content, proceeding at a faster pace if possible or at a slower pace if necessary.

At Cleveland State, students now have the option of completing more than one module each week—i.e., they can move through each course at an accelerated pace. Students who complete a developmental math course before the end of the term are allowed to begin the next developmental course immediately.

What has been the impact of this change at Cleveland State?

  • 37 students completed two or more developmental math courses in one semester, and 33 of these exited the developmental math program after one semester.
  • 9 students completed Intermediate Algebra and a college-level math course in the same semester.
  • 2 students completed three courses in one semester, each completing over 1800 exercises.

What’s Behind This Incredible Achievement?

Consistent with past successful NCAT redesigns in math, the Cleveland State team has identified a number of factors that have contributed to the success of their redesign project:

  • Student Engagement (Time on Task): The first, and most important, reason is that students are simply doing more work in the developmental math program than before. As a redesign team at another community college correctly observed, “The primary reason many students do not succeed in traditional math courses is that they do not actually do the problems. As a population, they generally do not spend enough time with the material, and this is why they fail at a very high rate.”

Students in the redesigned courses had to work harder than ever in order to be successful. Cleveland State students spent over 19,000 hours in the math labs and 12,000 hours in the classroom, while logging thousands of additional hours at home. In order to pass each course, students were required to watch videos and take notes, complete each homework set and pass every quiz and exam, a mastery learning approach that guaranteed that students would be successful as they moved forward.

  • Continuous Enrollment: The continuous enrollment approach at Cleveland State is clearly a success. Students were able to complete two courses in one semester or complete one course and start in the next course in the same semester. Many students have taken advantage of this option as evidenced by 46 students completing more than one course in a semester.
  • Curricular Changes: Changes were made in the developmental math curriculum to place greater emphasis on topics like graphing, rounding and technology, thus better preparing students to move to the next level of math study.
  • Overcoming Math Anxiety: Many students exiting the developmental program have overcome their fear of math through the volume of work they have done. The initial results of the redesign in developmental math show the potential of the new courses to better prepare students for success in college.

The Impact of Redesign on Reducing Costs

As of fall 2008, Cleveland State’s redesign has produced an annual savings of more than $50,000. This is a result largely of shifts in personnel as described below. Other savings include lower copying costs due to online homework and testing. This figure represents a significant savings for a department of eight faculty members and one staff member.

  • Increased Faculty Productivity: Faculty productivity rose by 23% in fall 2008. The use of technology has decreased the amount of course preparation and delivery time spent by full-time faculty members on these courses. The average student load per faculty member went from 106 to 130. The FTE teaching load per faculty member went from 21.2 to 26.0. Five of the eight faculty members had student loads of 150 – 175 students. This increased productivity enabled the department to eliminate the use of adjunct faculty members while increasing course offerings.

Faculty members were initially expected to teach 10 course sections and work in the lab 10 hours. It is now clear that teaching 11 course sections and working in the lab 8 hours is another possible arrangement. Cleveland State does not expect faculty members to move beyond this range since there is a limit to how many students a faculty member can manage and still give students the individual attention that they need in order to be successful. As the team moves forward, faculty members will be expected to teach 10 - 11 sections, work 8 – 10 hours in the lab, and handle 150+ students each semester.

  • Lab Staffing: Staffing the Cleveland lab shifted from a full-time staff position to five part-time tutors in addition to the full-time faculty members. Also, one volunteer worked in the lab 5-6 hours each week. Ways to gain additional volunteers from the community and a local four-year college are now being explored. The department is optimistic that the volunteer portion of the lab staff will expand slightly in future years. At the Athens lab, one staff member was hired to replace a retiring faculty member.
  • Low-Enrollment Sections: Based on what they have learned from the redesign, the Cleveland State math department will try a new approach to low-enrollment classes starting in spring 2009. They will offer multiple courses in the same classroom at the same time. The strategy will be used at the Cleveland campus during class times that have had historically low numbers. This new strategy will also enable the department to increase course offerings in several courses. When the redesign project is expanded to include Basic Calculus and Precalculus in fall 2009, for example, this new strategy will enable those courses to be offered at the smaller Athens campus for the first time in many years. This, in turn, should reduce scheduling roadblocks for students and enable them to complete their degree requirements sooner.

The primary goals of the redesign project were to increase success rates in the developmental math program, better prepare these students for success in college and increase the ability of students to move quickly through the developmental math program, removing the roadblocks to success. All of this was to be done with an eye towards producing actual cost savings. So far, the project has been an overwhelming success.

What about College-Level Math Courses?

During the same year, Cleveland State has also redesigned three college-level courses: College Algebra, Finite Math and Introductory Statistics. These redesigns have also achieved impressive results: 

  • College Algebra: The course completion rate increased from an average of 65% over the past five years to 74% in fall 2008. The improvement in the success rate is promising, as the passing rate had never been above 70% in the last five years. The course GPA increased from 2.26 over the past five years to 2.89 in fall 2008, and the number of common test items answered correctly increased from 75.64% to 86.34%. The course is similar in both content and level of difficulty to what it has been in previous years.
  • Finite Math: The course completion rate increased from an average of 75% over the past five years to 91% in fall 2008. This increase, while encouraging, is not as significant as it might appear. This is a low-enrollment course, with completion rates fluctuating between 70% and 90% in the past. This happens in low enrollment courses, since just a few students passing or failing can affect the success rate by as much as 10%. So, while the team is pleased with the success rate, the improvement should not be overstated.

The course GPA increased from 2.53 over the past five years to 3.63 in fall 2008, and performance on common test Items increased from 82.1% to 87.5%. The course is similar in both content and level of difficulty to what it has been in previous years. The increases in performance are most likely due to the increase in student engagement as well as the mastery approach that is used in all of the redesigned courses.

  • Introductory Statistics: The course GPA increased from 2.79 over the past five years to 3.04 in fall 2008, and performance on common test Items increased from 79.6% to 83.3%. Given the expansion of the curriculum and greater difficulty of the course, it is safe to say these students learned more than students in past years.

The course completion rate decreased from an average of 79% over the past five years to 68% in fall 2008. This was likely due to the course being strengthened in terms of an expanded curriculum and increased difficulty level under the redesign. Faculty members felt the course was significantly harder than it had been in previous years. Some of the modules proved to be too time-consuming for students to complete in one or two weeks. Tweaking the course should eliminate the problems in the course, making it more acceptable to both faculty and students in future semesters.

What’s Next?

Cleveland State also plans to redesign three additional courses in spring 2009 and to implement those courses in fall 2009: Basic Calculus, Precalculus I and Precalculus II. Once these courses are offered under the new format, approximately 95% of the students at Cleveland State will be taking math courses in the redesigned format. John Squires, the project leader and math department chair, recognizes the advantages that can be realized when you look at department redesign as compared to course redesign. Economies of scale are more easily realized the bigger the redesign project is. Also, redefining faculty roles and duties as Cleveland State has done is easier to do when the entire department and most of its course offerings are involved in the redesign.

Implications for Others

Clearly the implications for colleges and universities around the country of the outcomes produced by Cleveland State are substantial. By putting students first and organizing their redesigns around the individual needs of students rather than the convenience of institutions, this pioneering institution is making a major contribution to improving the ways in which all of us help students prepare for college success and move more rapidly to degree completion.

I recently wrote to John Squires to congratulate him and his colleagues on their outstanding work. I said, “You guys are the poster children for how to do the right thing! You should be really proud.” John’s response: “Much of what we did is simply follow the NCAT playbook.”

That playbook is the product of the hard work and dedication of many, many extraordinary faculty and staff around the country that are showing the way to address one of our country’s most vexing academic problems. The message is simple: “Students learn math by doing math, not by listening to someone talk about doing math.”

--Carol A. Twigg

What's New

Featuring updates and announcements from the Center.

Education Sector Asks, “Is Technology the Answer to Rising Costs?”

On December 2, 2008, Education Sector held a seminar entitled “Is Technology the Answer to Rising Costs?” which focused on the potential technology offers to counter rising costs in higher education. A panel of experts discussed the Washington Monthly article, "Transformation 101," written by Education Sector Research and Policy Manager Kevin Carey in the November/December 2008 issue. A key point of the discussion was how technology is being used to transform undergraduate education, dramatically cutting labor costs while improving student learning results at the same time. Panelists included Jim Wohlpart from Florida Gulf Coast University, Burck Smith from SMARTHINKING, Martin Snyder, Director, American Association of University Professors, and Kevin Carey. To read the full text of the Washington Monthly article, see

Education Sector is a not-for-profit, independent think tank that challenges conventional thinking in education policy. To learn more about Education Sector, see or contact Kevin Carey at

Twigg Speaks to FIPSE Project Leaders

On December 8, 2008, Carol Twigg spoke to the directors of projects currently supported by the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) at their annual meeting in Washington, DC. Carol shared the many methods that NCAT uses to disseminate the results of our programs, especially how technology enables cost-effective dissemination, and discussed the importance of embedding dissemination in innovative programs from the get-go. Among the methods Carol discussed were this quarterly newsletter; published articles and monographs; conference presentations; NCAT’s extensive web site with its project descriptions, outcomes analysis, recommended reading, references and tools; the Redesign Scholars program; and, the Redesign Alliance and its highly successful annual conference and regional meetings. FIPSE has a major interest in spreading the results of their funded projects, and NCAT was described by FIPSE as the “Cadillac” of dissemination. Carol’s comments were well received by other project leaders seeking cost-effective methods to share their innovations and outcomes.

NCAT Scholar Receives New Appointment

In January 2009, NCAT Redesign Scholar Tristan Denley became provost and vice president of academic and student affairs at Austin Peay State University (APSU) in Clarksville, TN. Prior to joining APSU, Tristan was associate professor and chair of mathematics. Tristan was chosen to be an NCAT Redesign Scholar after leading a highly successful mathematics redesign at the University of Mississippi (UM). Tristan also led the team that is currently working on UM’s redesign of Business Calculus as part of the Mississippi Course Redesign Initiative. APSU is also redesigning its developmental math courses as part of the Tennessee Board of Regents initiative. We congratulate Tristan on his new position and salute APSU for making a wise choice!


Featuring initiatives to scale course redesign through state- and system-wide redesign programs.

Mississippi Institutions Prepare for Spring 2009 Pilots

The universities participating in the Mississippi Course Redesign Initiative have spent the fall 2008 term preparing for pilots of their course redesigns, which have been launched in January 2009. The pilots are underway and moving along well, although some institutions have faced challenges they are still resolving. Teams from most of these projects will give full reports at the Redesign Alliance Conference in March 2009 described below.

Alcorn State University has moved quickly to be ready for their pilot redesign of College Algebra using the Emporium Model. The university ordered 58 computers and a biometric finger print reader for the new math center. The furniture is in place, and the network cables have been laid. Although the equipment is slowly arriving, the delivery has been delayed by several weeks due to some confusion between the university and the vendors. Faculty and students are scheduled to work in the math center. The team expects the facility to be fully functional by the first week in February. In the interim, faculty are meeting students three days a week, making sure that students have access codes to the software, and demonstrating the new learning system. To learn more, contact Ravinder Kumar at

Throughout summer and fall 2008, meetings about the redesign of Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra took place at Jackson State University in preparation for the spring 2009 pilots. Contact with companies such as AccuTrack and Scantron have been made. The labs are ready. The three pilot sections of College Algebra have a total of 167 students enrolled. The pilot section for Intermediate Algebra has 46 students enrolled. Instructors for the pilots have been identified and trained, and twograduate assistants and four undergraduate assistants have been hired (two for each course).To learn more, contact Tor Kwembe at

During spring 2009, Mississippi State University (MSU) is offering one pilot section of its redesigned chemistry course. Course material will be presented online in modules of 5-10 minutes, and one module will be created for every important topic inthe course. Currently the team is using Camtasia Studio to deliver narrated and annotated PowerPoint lectures, delivered through Blackboard Vista. In addition to working with the online modules, the students will meet once a week with the professor to resolve problems and to take exams. An important part of the redesign is the use of the web site Chem21Labs, developed by Eddie Brown from Lee University in Cleveland, TN, exclusively for chemistry courses. This automated homework system provides students with immediate feedback and lets them know when they have mastered a particular topic and are ready to move on to the next topic. The software developer visited MSU and trained the faculty on how to use the system. One of the MSU redesign team leaders also attended two Chem21Labs workshops in Cleveland, TN during summer 2008. A student worker, hired to assist with the production of the modules, will continue to work on an hourly basis as needed. During summer 2009, the team will evaluate the redesigned course based on the experiences from the pilot section. New modules will be created, and other modules will be modified as needed. The team will be ready for full implementation of the redesigned chemistry course for fall 2009. MSU is providing a new computer lab for chemistry and biology, which will be ready for the fall semester 2009. To learn more, contact Svein Saebo at

The pilot term for the redesign of statics at Mississippi State University is off to a good start. The course coordinator, along with a graduate student and four undergraduate assistants, is implementing a Statics Emporium. Students review course material prior to meeting in the emporium and then complete their assignments there. General feedback to date has been positive. The students seem to have adapted well to the new format. The team is looking forward to the first assessment quiz to see how well the concepts are being grasped by the students using this new approach. To learn more, contact Anthony Vizzini at

The pilot of the statistics redesign at Mississippi State University is in progress, and some goals have already been met. In particular, enrollment has increased by 17.6% from 340 in the fall to 400 in the spring semester. Plans are in place to accommodate more students as demand for the course increases. The pilot course also accomplishes the goals of addressing different learning styles and promoting active learning by incorporating labs and recitation sections which emphasize hands-on problem solving. Since the lecture component consists of a single lecture presented by the course supervisor with lab and recitation activities tied to the lecture material, the student experience is more uniform. The course modification proposal for the redesigned statistics course has been approved at the university level. Some scheduling issues were encountered at the beginning of the semester, but they have been resolved for future semesters, and the team anticipates a smooth transition to the full implementation of the redesigned course in fall 2009. To learn more, contact Mohsen Razzaghi at

Mississippi Valley State University is offering three redesigned sections of Intermediate Algebra during the spring 2009 semester. Each section enrolls up to 60 students. The students will be required to spend three hours in the computer-based math lab each week. Two instructors are participating in the pilot, and they will meet once a week with their students. The computer lab is up and running with scheduled hours for the instructors, undergraduate tutors and the professional staff. The team held two successful training workshops for all personnel involved in the redesign. The math faculty will meet bi-monthly to discuss the redesign’s progress. To learn more, contact Latonya Garner at

In fall 2008, the team redesigning Intermediate Algebra at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) continued its partial redesign, teaching five sections using the Emporium Model and two sections using the traditional lecture method. Since the team has had previous experience with the Emporium Model, the redesign will be fully implemented in all three sections of approximately 40 students each during spring 2009. For course load purposes, two sections of 40 count as one teaching unit. Previously, each section of approximately 60 students counted as one teaching unit. Course enrollment during spring 2009 is smaller than expected. Recently, USM raised the minimum Math ACT sub-score prerequisite for College Algebra from 17 to 20. Unfortunately, this is counter to the policy of the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), the state governing body for USM. The discussion is ongoing and currently, the IHL universities are proposing a change in policy that would allow each school to set its own prerequisites for College Algebra. To learn more, contact Barry Piazza at

At the University of Southern Mississippi, the redesign of Nutrition and Food Systems using the Buffet Model was launched on January 13, 2009. The team held the first face-to-face class, and the fully online section is up and running. During fall 2008, the three instructors completed recording lectures and PowerPoint slides using Camtasia Studio. The team created flash files for each student on a CD that was provided in class or mailed to the online students. Common exam questions have been identified for all eighteen chapters of the textbook, and a common final exam of 100 questions will be used by all sections of the course, which includes three other lecture sections and four additional online sections. An interactive textbook was completed during the fall semester and was loaded into the course shells. In the first lab session, the team walked the students through how to use the lecture materials and the electronic textbook, which includes a pre-test, personalized learning plan, video clips, glossary of terms and an optional post-test. Completion of the pre-test will be used as the basis for the content of weekly lab sessions, and all students are awarded points for completing the pre-test by established weekly deadlines. Each week also includes a quiz on the materials completed which students may attempt three times with the highest grade counting. These quizzes have been built from the test bank provided by the textbook partner Cengage. The redesign uses the Blackboard feature that allows random selection of items, so students will receive different combinations of questions each time they attempt a quiz. Students are also encouraged to complete the post-test that is part of the electronic textbook for additional practice, although the outcomes are not part of the course grade during the pilot. To learn more, contact Denise Brown at

The roll-out of the psychology pilot at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has been tough. There have been challenges in several areas with all parties involved shouldering part of the blame. The publisher was late meeting a deadline to make the online component available, and the course material for the pilot section was not uploaded until the day of the first class. To complicate matters, students logged on to find material for the wrong course. The only room at USM that can seat 300 people has a computer that has proven to be unreliable, crashing on the first day. However, the administration has been invaluable in correcting this problem in a very timely manner. A computer lab which is sufficiently large to accommodate all students in the pilot has been located; previously, the team had lab sections spread between three different locations. One thing the team did anticipate was the learning curve for students enrolled in the pilot class. Most of these issues related to navigating web pages and using the software. For the most part, the team has successfully addressed the majority of student concerns. To learn more, contact David Echevarria at

The pilot in Spanish at the University of Southern Mississippi has come together quickly. The classroom for the spring pilot is as close to ideal as existing spaces at the university come--a large SMART room with moveable desks.  The team has high hopes that this is the space that will be allocated permanently to the redesigned course.  All sections are fully enrolled. The lead faculty instructor is doing an amazing job; she has worked hard in conjunction with two other faculty members to develop syllabi, assessments and course policies. The team is now in the process of hiring undergraduate assistants to work in the lab and in the classroom. To learn more, contact Leah Fonder-Solano at

Other institutions participating in the Mississippi initiative are Delta State University: College Algebra, Mississippi University for Women: Intermediate and College Algebra, Mississippi State University: Biology, University of Mississippi: Business Calculus, University of Southern Mississippi: Introduction to Computing and Technical Writing. To learn more about the Mississippi initiative, contact Lynn House at or Alfred Rankins at at the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

Pilots of Redesigned SUNY Courses Are Underway

The teams working on redesign projects selected as part of the Course Redesign Initiative at the State University of New York (SUNY) have completed the planning and development stage. During spring 2009, the institutions will pilot their redesigns in preparation for full implementation in fall 2009. Teams from most of these projects will give full reports at the Redesign Alliance Conference in March 2009 described below.

At Buffalo State College, the redesign of The Economic System is being piloted in one large section during the spring semester. All of the redesigned instructional components are in place: online materials are ready and trained undergraduate learning assistants are prepared to meet once a week with small student groups. Data from common exams were collected during fall 2008 from the two sections of the economics course (traditional and pre-pilot) that were offered and will be used as the baseline for assessment. In addition, a new assessment survey of student views of the computer-based instruction with pre- and post-surveys will allow the team to make ongoing improvements. The team has finalized formal agreements with two departments at the college, History and Social Studies Education and Elementary Education, to systematically recruit undergraduate learning assistants (ULAs) for future terms. Current ULAs will go to selective upper-division methods classes in each major to describe their experiences and recruit new ULAs for the next year. To learn more, contact Karen O’Quin at

The fall 2008 semester went by quickly at SUNY Fredonia as the team prepared for the pilot of the redesigned Spanish course in spring 2009. All of the necessary approvals have been secured. The baseline assessment of students in the traditional sections is complete; these data will be compared with the student learning outcome data from the pilot and following semesters. The team spent most of the fall semester planning the course (balancing the online and the in-class portions), deciding on necessary purchases and making sure the course was approved and included in the course offerings. Some students sent e-mails asking about the course, trying to decide to enroll or not. Because of delays in funding, needed purchases were made later than projected. The computers for the new language lab to support the online components have now arrived. The team is ready, and the pilot is set to begin. To learn more, contact Juan DeUrda at

The team redesigning statistics at Niagara County Community College has met its goal of finalizing a common curriculum in statistics. The textbook was selected, and curriculum materials have been set up. All assignments including homework, practice tests, tests and the final exam have been finalized and are being managed through MyStatLab. In addition, all course informational materials are available to students electronically on Angel, NCCC’s course management system. Work on the new 60-seat computer classroom has been completed; the learning space has been set up along with the necessary hardware and accompanying software. Faculty have been trained on the capabilities of this new classroom. In spring 2009, the pilot section of the redesigned statistics course is running as a double section of the course and includes partnering a full-time faculty member with an adjunct faculty member. The team is excited about this innovative new learning opportunity for their students. To learn more, contact Daniel Miller

Other institutions participating in the SUNY initiative are SUNY Canton, Introduction to Biology; SUNY College at Old Westbury, College Algebra; SUNY at Oswego, College Algebra; SUNY at Potsdam, European and US History; and, Stony Brook University, Physics for Life Sciences. To learn more about the SUNY initiative, contact Harold Silverman at

Tennessee Board of Regents Institutions Complete A Second Redesign Pilot

As part of a program funded by the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE), six Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) institutions are completing the second of three pilots of their course redesigns. Focused on developmental math, reading and English, the projects seek to show increased student learning as well as reduced instructional costs using modularization as a key component of the redesigned course. Teams from most of these projects will give full reports at the Redesign Alliance Conference in March 2009 described below.

In fall 2008, the Cleveland State Community College (CSCC) redesign project was expanded from two courses at one campus to six courses at three campuses. The three developmental math courses that were redesigned have all shown significant improvement in both student learning and course completion rates.

  • Completion rates in Intermediate Algebra, for example, surged from 57% historically to 70% in spring 2008 to 79% in fall 2008.
  • The number of students exiting the developmental math program increased by 47% over previous fall semesters.

The department’s new continuous enrollment policy allows students to work in and complete multiple courses in the same semester.

  • 46 students completed multiple courses in one semester.
  • 37 of these completed multiple developmental math courses.
  • 9 students completed Intermediate Algebra and a college-level math course.
  • 2 students completed three courses in one semester, each completing over 1500 exercises.

Finally, students who completed Intermediate Algebra in the summer and spring of 2008 were tracked manually in the three college-level courses. The students who took Intermediate Algebra in the redesigned format succeeded at an 80% level in their college-level math courses, outperforming other students in the classes, who succeeded at a 71% rate. The CSCC team believes much of this success is due to the amount of work students perform in the new developmental math classes and the high level of student engagement.

CSCC also redesigned three college-level math courses (College Algebra, Finite Math and Statistics.) In addition, three additional college-level courses (Basic Calculus, Precalculus I, and Precalculus I) will be redesigned in spring 2009 and implemented in fall 2009. By fall 2009, 95% of CSCC math courses will be offered in a redesigned format. To learn more, contact John Squires at

Jackson State Community College (JSCC) completed Pilot II of its developmental math redesign during fall 2008. Students who want to complete their developmental math requirement quickly can do so. Some students completed all required modules in one semester. Students who completed only some of the modules and/or enrolled in traditional developmental math classes previously started the fall 2008 semester where they left off in the last semester they attempted a developmental math course. In Pilot II, the team used a student course contract allowing students the option to study only the curriculum committee approved prerequisite modules relevant to the student’s major and career goals. Students were not required to take more modules than were required although they could do so if they wished.

Results from Pilot II showed improvement over the successes achieved in Pilot I spring 2008:

  • 56.68% of the students earned a grade of C or better compared to 53.93% in Pilot I and 41.37% in the traditional course format.
  • The mean post-test scores by module were better than those scores in both the traditional and the Pilot I redesigned sections in all modules.
  • Retention also improved with 75.37% retained compared to 73.64% in Pilot I and 70.51% in the traditional course format.

Overall, the students are very positive about the change from lecture classes to technology-driven, instructor and tutor assisted courses. While several sections of traditional versions of Intermediate Algebra were offered, only one section had a sufficient number of students to fill the section.

The math faculty are still searching for the best way to utilize weekly focus group meetings. At the beginning of the term, instructors used the group meetings to explain the syllabus, the concept of modules and the opportunities this redesign offers. As the term went on, students not having particular problems did not want to leave the lab where they were working on math modules to attend a weekly meeting. Consequently, ad hoc small focus groups composed of students having similar problems met with their instructor. Instructors remain excited about the increase in student success. To learn more, contact Mary Jane Bassett at

Northeast State Community College (NSCC) conducted the second pilot of its Basic and Developmental Reading redesign in fall 2008. A number of changes were made based on what was learned in the first pilot. Pilot II included more students, added a mandatory weekly group meeting as part of three required hours in the Reading Center, reduced the range of online materials available to students and increased the focus on MyReadingLab, emphasized online study skills and learning strategies early in the term, strengthened the course orientation, and required students to keep a Learning Notebook to increase their organizational skills. Early exit from the redesigned course was strongly encouraged and assisted; about 18-19% of the students completed the course early, which was not an option in the traditional course.

Preliminary learning outcomes from Pilot II are encouraging:

  • 67% of the students enrolled in the redesigned sections successfully passed the course, 3% more than the traditional sections.
  • 55% of students enrolled in the redesigned sections made A’s and B’s vs. 41% in the traditional sections.
  • The cost of the redesigned sections was drastically reduced. Each redesigned section had approximately 40 students taught by one instructor with assistance of Reading Center assistants, whereas the average size of the traditional sections was 18.5 students.

Several additional modifications are planned for Pilot III in spring 2009. The redesign will be expanded to include all reading students; both full-time reading faculty members will teach the redesigned sections, and no adjunct faculty will be hired as instructors; and the teamwork between the instructors and the Reading Center assistants will be strengthened through implementing a better process of accountability. To learn more, contact Xiaoping Wang at

To learn more about the TBR initiative, contact Treva Berryman at


Featuring progress reports and outcomes achieved by the C2R program.

C2R Round III Institutions Selected

Proposals to participate in Round III of the Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) program were submitted on January 15, 2009, and eleven proposals were accepted. Supported by the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), C2R brings four-person institutional teams together with NCAT staff and Redesign Scholars at a series of disciplinary institutes. Scheduled for April 24, 2009, in Dallas, TX, the institutes will introduce the teams to the NCAT redesign methodology, share strategies and techniques for successful course redesign, and help them develop plans for course redesigns on their home campuses. Following each institute, NCAT will support collaboration and consultation among NCAT staff, Redesign Scholars and institutional teams to help teams apply what was learned at the institutes on campus and replicate prior successes. The institutions selected and the courses to be redesigned are: Arizona State University: Leisure and the Quality of Life, Coppin State University: Technology Fluency, Edison State College: Reading, El Paso Community College: Intermediate Algebra, Regis University: Essentials of Writing, Santa Fe College: Intermediate Algebra, University of Maryland Eastern Shore: Biology, University of Minnesota: Introduction to Psychology, University of North Carolina, Charlotte: Spanish, and University of Washington Bothell.

C2R Round II Pilots Completed

Pilot implementations of the redesigned courses in Round II of the Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) program are complete. Redesigns included Arizona State University: Emergent Literacy, Auburn University: Pre-Calculus, Auburn University : Physics, New York Institute ofTechnology: Introduction to Psychology, Oklahoma State University: College Algebra, Southeastern Louisiana University: Intermediate Algebra, University of Central Florida: College Algebra, and University of West Alabama: Written English. Teams are collecting and analyzing data on student learning and instructional costs and will present these results at the Redesign Alliance Conference in March 2009. Summaries of these results will also be shared in the April 2009 issue of The Learning MarketSpace. Abstracts of each project are available at


Featuring updates from the Alliance, a member organization of institutions, organizations and companies committed to and experienced with large-scale course redesign.

Redesign Alliance Conference Deadlines Are Approaching

Registration and hotel reservation deadlines for the Third Annual Redesign Alliance Conference are approaching quickly. Be sure to register for the conference by February 19, 2009 to save $100 on the registration fee. Final registration closes on March 13, 2009. The hotel reservation deadline for a guaranteed conference rate at the Rosen Centre Hotel is also February 19, 2009. To ensure that there will be a place for you at the conference when it opens on March 22nd, it is time to make those reservations at

What’s New at the 2009 Redesign Alliance Conference?

More redesign projects just beginning, more projects conducting pilots and more projects fully implemented!  New academic areas such as economics, education, engineering history, nutrition and technical writing!

  • Monday morning’s Showcase Sessions will feature only projects that have been fully implemented.
  • Monday afternoon’s Roundtable Discussions will feature projects still in development to serve as case studies for discussion on issues and challenges one is likely to encounter and ideas about how to resolve them.
  • Adjacent to the Monday evening reception, Poster Sessions will feature innovative techniques, and poster developers will be available to exchange ideas with conference participants.
  • Tuesday morning’s Hot Topics Sessions will cover such things as how to engage students, new models for fully online courses, assessment planning and working with commercial software.

Plenary sessions will focus on one of the Alliance’s areas of work, Learning Space Design. In the opening keynote, Philip Parsons, who has consulted on learning environments at more than 60 colleges and universities, will look at the relationship between space and learning in higher education and will consider ways in which we can maximize the effectiveness of the full range of potential learning spaces on and off the campus. This keynote will be followed late Monday afternoon by a panel of representatives from institutions who have dealt with space issues as they implemented their large-scale course redesigns. The closing plenary panel on Tuesday morning will focus on a second Alliance area of work, Pedagogy, and will feature the results of a national study led by a team at Washington University in St. Louis that demonstrates how quizzing, if done correctly, also can sharply improve long-term retention of unfamiliar knowledge.

The final conference agenda as well as registration information is available at We look forward to seeing you there!

Benefits of Joining the Redesign Alliance 

When we speak at conferences and campuses, we meet lots of faculty and staff who are quite interested in making connections with those who are in the process of implementing or have completed a course redesign. They seek the opportunity to have conversations and exchanges with others in a variety of disciplines who want to improve student success and who are struggling with budget constraints in creative ways. Joining the Redesign Alliance is an excellent way to be part of a growing community of institutions engaged in course redesign. 
The benefits of being part of this community are several. By becoming a member of the Redesign Alliance, you have the opportunity:

  • to advance the goals of the Redesign Alliance
  • to participate in a high-level national forum on course redesign
  • to learn and gain access to state-of-the-art information and knowledge
  • to influence the direction of the Redesign Alliance
  • to access professional development opportunities for faculty and administrators who are new to redesign
  • to exchange ideas and problem-solving strategies with those experienced in course redesign
  • to return to your home institution or organization and apply the knowledge gained 

Members of the Redesign Alliance enjoy reduced registration fees at all Redesign Alliance events including the highly successful and interactive Redesign Alliance Annual Conference, the Fall Seminar and other special workshops and other events. As the 2009 Conference approaches, consider this dynamic partnership as a venue to move your institution forward in these challenging times. To learn more, contact Kay Katzer, Membership Coordinator, at

Getting Started Seminar Held at Ohio State University

On December 4, 2008, the Redesign Alliance sponsored a seminar focused on helping institutions get started on a redesign project. Seventy participants from 21 institutions met at the Ohio State University (OSU) to learn from those who have successfully implemented a course redesign. NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon gave an overview of the kinds of redesign initiatives that have occurred across the country, including some of the issues institutions have faced as they began a campus effort. Randy Smith, vice provost at OSU, and Dennis Pearl, professor of statistics at OSU, described their statistics redesign using the Buffet Model, each providing his perspective on how the project began and how it has evolved over the last five years. Karen Wells, provost and vice president, academic and learner services, and Mary Jane Pasky, coordinator of distance learning, at Lorain County Community College, described how their campuswide redesign initiative began, with particular information about their economics redesign completed as part of the Ohio Learning Network Course Redesign Initiative. During the afternoon, participants broke into small groups to discuss the various challenges institutions face in starting a course redesign. The small groups then reported back to the other attendees. Overall, participants indicated that they felt more informed about how to get started on their own campuses as well as better prepared to think about the challenges involved in implementing a large-scale course redesign.


Linking content and software providers with leading edge institutions.

Cengage Learning Spreads the Word on Course Redesign

Throughout fall 2008, Cengage Learning provided multiple opportunities for institutions to learn about course redesign. In October, Cengage hosted a math workshop for several faculty and Cengage representatives in Houston, TX, which included a presentation on redesign by Carolyn Jarmon. Cengage also organized several campus sessions on course redesign. Later in October, Carolyn met with a faculty group at El Paso Community College (EPCC) in El Paso, TX; this meeting resulted in EPCC’s submitting a successful proposal to NCAT’s C2R program. In November, Carolyn visited with other schools to share what NCAT has learned about improving developmental math with faculty and administrators engaged in implementing a Title III Grant. Finally, Carolyn participated in a retreat focused on redesigning chemistry and learning to use OWL (Online Web-Based Learning), held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

From March 11-13, 2009, Cengage Learning’s Course Technology Conference 2009 will offer an opportunity for computer science instructors to find answers to their technology education questions. Held in Las Vegas, NV, this event will feature industry leaders, over 60 breakout sessions, and the opportunity to see and discuss Cengage products and solutions. At this conference, Carolyn will offer a session on course redesign, highlighting strategies for applying the principles of course redesign to computer science programs and the incorporation of key technologies to achieve results. For more information, go to or contact Julie Conover at

Developmental Math Course Redesign Session Planned for ICTCM

On March 12-15, 2009, Pearson Education will sponsor the 21st Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM) in New Orleans, LA. ICTCM has become an essential conference for those interested in improving mathematics instruction in higher education. NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon will offer a session highlighting successful redesigns of developmental mathematics from institutions across the United Statesincluding the highly successful projects in the Developmental Studies Redesign Initiative sponsored by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). Projects focused on developmental math have implemented two different NCAT models: 1) the Emporium Model which is working extremely well at Cleveland State Community College, Jackson State Community College and the University of Alabama, and 2) the Linked Workshop Model which was developed at Austin Peay State University. Carolyn will also provide information on how institutions have gotten started on their developmental math redesigns. For more information and to register, go to


Reporting on initiatives that share the Center's goals and objectives.

Gates Foundation Expands to Include Post-Secondary Education

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced a new initiative focused on improving graduation and retention rates in higher education, specifically in community colleges. This initiative recognizes that while access is very important, the benefits accrue for society with students’ graduation and credentialing. With a significant focus on disadvantaged students, the new initiative has four components: 1) exploring shifts in financial aid policy to encourage completion, 2) changing student incentives, 3) building partnerships, and 4) improving remedial education. This final component will seek to increase completion rates, in part, by increasing course completion in developmental courses so that these students can move on to college-level courses and, ultimately, graduation. NCAT’s course redesign methodology is providing many examples of how institutions are tackling these issues successfully, most recently in the Tennessee Board of Regents Developmental Studies Redesign Initiative. To learn more about the work of Gates Foundation in postsecondary education, see

University of Hawaii System Sponsors Math Summit

On February 21, 2009, the University of Hawaii System (UH) will sponsor a Math Summit, which will bring together representatives from ten two- and four-year institutions across Hawaii to discuss aligning math courses across the curriculum and increasing student engagement in math courses. Building on the first Math Summit held in October 2008, this event is entitled, “Inverting the Math Crisis in Hawaii” and will continue the conversation focused on improving the math alignment between high schools, community colleges and four-year institutions in Hawaii and raising the student success levels. The Summit will feature two opening keynotes: Uri Treisman, Executive Director of the Charles A. Dana Center at University of Texas at Austin will frame the issues about the mathematics crisis and describe best practices to address it. Carol Twigg will speak to the group about the role of course redesign in improving success in math courses, sharing results from institutions across the United States. To learn more, contact Hae Okimoto at or visit

Tapscott’s Sequel A Must Read

Published in November 2008, Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott is a sequel to his highly successful and insightful earlier book, Growing Up Digital. In the new book, Tapscott discusses the ways students, employees and citizens who have grown up in the digital world are different from those who have not. Tapscott observes, “The bottom line is this: if you understand the Net Generation, you will understand the future.” As reported by The Economist, “In the past two years, Don Tapscott has overseen a $4.5m study of nearly 8,000 people in 12 countries born between 1978 and 1994. In Grown Up Digital he uses the results to paint a portrait of this generation that is entertaining, optimistic and convincing.” Not surprisingly, Tapscott argues for a profound change in education and a new model of pedagogy to reach this new generation of users. As the New York Times sums it up, “Grown Up Digital is a must read for baby boomers and virtually anyone else born before 1977.”


The National Center for Academic Transformation serves as a source of expertise and support for those in higher education who wish to take advantage of the capabilities of information technology to transform their academic practices.

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