The Learning MarketSpace, October 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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Offering perspectives on issues and developments at the nexus of higher education and information
Increasing Success in Developmental Math: SMART Math at Jackson State Community College
What is SMART Math at Jackson State Community College (JSCC)? SMART stands for Survive, Master, Achieve, Review and Transfer, and it represents JSCC’s vision of how students experience developmental math in its redesigned format. Smart is also a word that can be applied to JSCC’s innovative approach to increasing student success, although brilliant might be a more appropriate descriptor.
JSCC has been a participant in the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Developmental Studies Redesign Initiative to reform its remedial and developmental math and English curriculum. JSCC redesigned its remedial and developmental math sequence, three courses with an average annual enrollment of ~2200 (283 in Basic Math, 909 in Elementary Algebra, and 1020 in Intermediate Algebra.) Prior to the redesign, the three courses were taught in traditional sections, and math professors developed their own instructional strategies to cover common course objectives. Students were required to pass a course or start over in the same course the next semester. Students also had to complete all three courses successfully before being accepted into most programs of study or taking certain college-level courses.
The traditional developmental math courses faced a number of academic problems, the most important of which was that typically only 42% of students passed. The developmental math program did not meet the needs of students who were diverse in levels of preparation, learning styles and specific educational goals. The courses were designed to remediate high school algebra deficiencies. Students were required to study topics that were not relevant to their majors, to take an entire course even though they were deficient in only some topics and to learn at the same pace using the same instructional strategies as the entire class. Developmental math frequently presented a road block to students' achieving their educational goals. Many students were delayed in taking college-level courses or applying for admission to their programs of study. Others gave up and dropped out completely.
JSCC’s course redesign was complex. What were its key features?
1) Replacing Courses with Modules
JSCC’s redesign replaced the three developmental math courses with 12 clearly defined modules mapped to the competencies originally required in the three courses. Courses were divided as follows: Modules 1, 2 and 3 for Basic Math; Modules 4, 5, 6 and 7 for Elementary Algebra and Modules 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 for Intermediate Algebra. Students were required to complete one module satisfactorily before moving on to the next. If needed, students could begin the next semester with the next required module not completed during the previous semester. The redesign’s multi-entry and multi-exit opportunities and individualized pacing permitted students more frequent opportunities for successful completion and more time to focus on deficient areas. Students could progress more quickly or more slowly, if needed. Because all sections used the same structure and procedures, students could change their schedules if needed without interrupting their learning. That meant they could go to different classes, during the day or in the evening, online or on-ground, as their life circumstances dictated.
2) Changing Collegewide Developmental Math Requirements
In the traditional sequence, students were placed into a particular developmental course based on ACT/Compass scores. Students were required to progress through one, two or three courses on a semester schedule until they exited Intermediate Algebra. Only then could they enroll in college-level math courses or their desired programs of study. JSCC recognized that student goals are different: they may plan to enter a program of study that requires advanced mathematics, to complete a general education mathematics course or to apply for admission to a nursing or allied health program. Consequently, the redesign moved away from remediating students’ high school algebra deficiencies to preparing students for their particular educational goals. Students were required to master only the concept deficiencies that were relevant to their educational and career goals.
After defining the competencies to be included in each of the 12 modules, the math faculty determined which modules were necessary to succeed in each college-level general education math course. All other departments identified which modules were necessary to succeed in their college-level courses as well as their discipline’s core math requirements. Departments with programs not requiring college-level math determined the modules necessary to succeed in those programs. Changes in developmental math prerequisites were approved by the college curriculum committee.
Of the 48 programs of study requiring college-level math courses, 35 required only seven modules (47.1% of the students); four required eight modules (31.2% of the students), and seven required all 12 modules (20.3% of the students). One required only six modules (0.8% of the students), and one required only four modules (0.6% of the students).
Students were advised of their multi-exit opportunities based on their program of study choice and of the need to take more modules if they later changed their majors. This was accomplished via information sheets for each major, focus-group sessions and individual counseling with math instructors and the students’ academic advisors. The team made a campus-wide presentation at an in-service training and conducted sessions for advisor training in order to educate the college faculty and staff.
3) Using the Emporium Model
JSCC followed many successful NCAT math redesigns based on the Emporium Model and created the SMART Math Center , a computer lab where students worked with MyMathLab and received immediate one-on-one assistance from instructors and tutors. Students and their instructors were scheduled in the SMART Math Center three hours per week where attendance was taken. The SMART Math Center was open from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm Monday through Thursday and 8:00 am to 1:00 pm on Friday. Students could also work in the SMART Math Center more than the required three hours.
The availability of on-demand individual assistance in the SMART Math Center ensured that students received immediate help when needed. The variety of resources available accommodated students’ various levels of preparation, math anxieties and diverse learning styles. While working homework, students had the option to ask for help online--where they could follow a step-by-step interactive guide, view an example, watch a video explanation or view the online textbook--ask the instructor or request assistance from a tutor. Students received immediate diagnostic feedback on homework and tests, which helped motivate them to persist until they understood the concepts.
An online grade book gave students continued feedback on progress. This motivated students to keep on until they got it right, increasing student persistence. Instructors monitored each student's progress as well as time-on-task and took appropriate action when needed. This let students know that they were being watched, which was an additional motivation for them to complete their work. The 12 different modules provided students more frequent opportunities to succeed. As a result, students acquired the attitude, “I can do this!” Students demonstrated a willingness to work harder and longer. Student attitudes were altered. Students persisted and saw math as something that could be mastered with lots of hard work and time. They perceived success as their responsibility and sought individual best ways to succeed such as using videos, the example button or the help-me-solve-it button requesting individual help from the instructor or a tutor; or initiating a small-group discussion with the instructor.
4) Emphasizing Mastery Learning
JSCC used a customized textbook to provide a bridge for students from the traditional way of learning to a technology-guided method. Instructors developed Guided Studies for each module, which correlated with sections in the textbook. Guided Studies (the equivalent of a paper-and-pencil workbook) provided key problem-solving techniques, examples and practice problems. After completing a section of the Guided Studies, students were prepared to start the online homework generated by MyMathLab with problems chosen to correlate with the textbook and the Guided Studies. Each student maintained a notebook, containing the completed Guided Studies and practice tests. The notebook was graded holistically for organization, completeness, neatness and accuracy in general.
Before students could move from one homework assignment to the next, they were required to demonstrate 80% mastery. After all homework for a module was completed, students took a practice test where the online learning aids were not available. Students could work the practice test as many times as needed. Once ready, students took an online proctored post-test in the SMART Math Center . The post-test comprised 70% of the overall module score. If a student was not successful on the post-test, he or she could ask for help at the Coaches’ Corner where an instructor reviewed the student’s work on the test and recommended remediation techniques before retaking the test. The remaining 30% of the module score was for attendance (5%), notebooks (10%) and homework (15%). The overall score had to be at least 75 to satisfactorily complete the module.
Originally, students were placed in a developmental course if their ACT/Compass scores were less than 19 or 29 respectively. Students were then given an in-house diagnostic test using MyMathTest to determine in which module they should start. Since most students ended up being placed in Module 1, the team decided that the second testing was a waste of students’ time. The team now starts all students in Module 1 and requires them to pre-test out of each module that their program requires after doing the Guided Studies. Now each student passes each module, proving mastery of each skill rather than a general level of competency as indicated by ACT/Compass scores. A student demonstrating 80% mastery on the pre-test passes the module and moves to the next module. A student making less than 80% on the pre-test completes the homework, Guided Studies and post-test for that module. Some students choose to do the Guided Studies before taking the pre-test if they just need to refresh their memory.
The Results: Improved learning
Students in the redesign learned significantly more than students in the traditional classroom format.
Mean Module Post-Test Scores
Redesign students ultimately increased their average post-test scores in all courses by 15 points. In spring 2008, 11 traditional sections (220 students) and 13 redesigned sections (356 students) were offered on JSCC’s main campus. In the traditional sections, the average post-test score for all 12 modules was 73%. For the redesigned sections, it was 82%. In fall 2008, the average increased to 85%. In spring 2009 the average increased to 88%.
Basic Math (Modules 1 through 3)
Redesign students ultimately increased their average post-test scores by five points. In spring 2008, Basic Math post-test scores from traditional sections were compared with post-test scores from redesigned sections. In the traditional sections, the average post-test score for all three modules was 82%. For the redesigned sections, the average was 82%. In fall 2008, the average in the redesigned sections was 86%; in spring 2009, the average was 87%.
Elementary Algebra (Modules 4 through 7)
Redesign students ultimately increased their average post-test scores by 18 points. In spring 2008, Elementary Algebra post-test scores from traditional sections were compared with post-test scores from redesigned sections. In the traditional sections, the average post-test score for all four modules was 69%. For the redesigned sections, the average was 81%. In fall 2008, the average in the redesigned sections was 84%; in spring 2009, the average was 87%.
Intermediate Algebra (Modules 8 through 12)
Redesign students increased their average post-test scores by 12 points. In spring 2008, Intermediate Algebra post-test scores from traditional sections were compared with post-test scores from redesigned sections. In the traditional sections, the average post-test score for all five modules was 70%. For the redesigned sections, the average was 82%.
Beginning in fall 2008, students could early-exit the developmental math sequence based on the requirements of their programs of study. Only 20.3% of JSCC students were required to complete all five modules, the equivalent of Intermediate Algebra. (Another 31.2% had to complete only module 8; these students did not have to complete modules 9 – 12.) Because the “weaker” math students—those not requiring the equivalent of the Intermediate Algebra course—were removed from the redesign sample, the higher average scores of 85% in fall 2008 and 89% in spring 2009 may be partially due to the remaining students being “stronger.”
The Results: Student Success Rates
Because JSCC radically changed the structure of its developmental math program, it is impossible to show comparative completion rates of individual courses other than in the spring 2008 pilot semester when all three developmental courses were offered using the module concept. Only the pedagogy differed: traditional sections were taught in traditional classrooms using traditional pedagogy whereas redesigned sections were offered in the SMART Math Center using the Emporium Model.
In spring 2008, 11 traditional sections (220 students) and 13 redesigned sections (356 students) were offered. In the traditional sections, 41% of the students received a passing grade (C or better) compared to 54% of students in the redesigned sections. The spring 2008 pass rate was comparable to JSCC’s historical 42% pass rate.
From fall 2008 onward, students in the redesign proceeded through the required modules at their own pace. When one semester ended and another began, students simply resumed work on the modules not completed. Thus, both the elements of “course” and “time” were removed. Since students “completed” “courses” under very different conditions, it is only possible to compare overall completion rates in the traditional and redesigned format for the developmental math program as a whole.
In the redesign, students enrolled in a “shell course” described below. The grade awarded was the average of the four (or fewer if required) modules completed.
In fall 2008, 57% of the 711 students enrolled in redesigned sections received a passing grade (C or better) compared to 41% in the spring 2008 traditional sections. In spring 2009, 59% of 670 students enrolled in redesigned sections received a passing grade.
Thus, JSCC increased the overall student success rate in developmental math by a very impressive 44%.
Completion Rates per Module
In order to pass a module, the overall score had to be at least 75. The chart below shows the number of students enrolled in each module and the percentage of those students who scored 75 or above on the overall module score.
JSCC defines retention as the percentage of students enrolled until the end of the semester. In spring 2008, 74% of students in the traditional course remained to the end. In fall 2008, 75% of redesign students remained to the end; in spring 2009, 83% remained to the end.
Failing grades were reduced in the redesign. In spring 2008, 37% of students enrolled in the traditional course received a failing grade compared with 27% in the redesigned sections. In fall 2008, 22% of the redesign students failed; in spring 2009, 25% of the redesign students failed.
If failing grades are separated by students who stopped coming to class versus students who stayed to the end, the number of those who stopped coming was 12% in the spring 2009 redesign. Therefore, JSCC assumes that the 13% who stayed to the end but did not pass completed at least one or more modules and will likely be successful when re-enrolling in the following semester.
Exiting the Developmental Math Program
Historically, an average of 18% of all students enrolled in the traditional developmental math program passed Intermediate Algebra, which was the only way to exit the developmental math sequence, and were ready to enter college-level courses and/or programs. In fall 2008, 36% of all students enrolled in the redesigned developmental math program completed all required developmental math modules. In spring 2009, that percentage increased to 42%.
Clearly, the policy change requiring students to complete only the number of modules required by their majors had an impact on the increased percentage of student exiting the developmental math program. Of the 1438 students enrolled in developmental math during fall 2008 and spring 2009, 546 students (38%) completed their program-determined developmental math requirements. Of those students, 140 students (26%) completed all 12 modules. Of those 140 students, only 42 were required to complete 12 modules. Seventy-four percent of the students (N=406) completed their requirements, in part, because of the policy change allowing early exit after mastering the modules their programs required.
In order to understand more fully the impact of changed pedagogy on student success versus the impact of the policy changes, JSCC plans to track a cohort of students beginning in fall 2009. They will establish a randomly selected cohort of students (including their ACT/Compass scores) who first enrolled in developmental math in fall 2009 and classify students in three conditions: 1) programs requiring 7 modules, 2) programs requiring 8 modules, and 3) programs requiring 12 modules. They will then determine how many of the students in each condition completed how many modules by the end of fall 2009 and spring 2010.
The Results: Cost Reduction
In the traditional model, JSCC offered 89 sections of 20 – 24 students during fall and spring, 63 of which were taught by full-time faculty at an instructional cost of $290,871 (which is 80% of salaries, omitting the 20% of instructor time devoted toother-than-instructional responsibilities) and 26 by adjuncts at a cost of $37,778. The cost of tutors was $4,510, bringing the total cost of the traditional course to $333,159.
In the redesigned model, JSCC offered 71 sections during fall and spring; 44 sections enrolled 30 students and 27 enrolled 24 students. The number taught by full-time faculty was 37 at a cost of $170,829, and the number taught by adjuncts was 34 at a cost of $49,402. (These costs were calculated using the same baseline salary figures as the traditional rather than actual salaries in 2008-09 in order to demonstrate the effect of the structural changes made in the course.) The cost of tutors was $38,298, bringing the total cost of the redesigned course to $258,529. The cost-per-student was reduced from $177 to $141, a 20% decrease.
The availability of several tutors and instructors in each class made it possible to increase section size and still provide individualized attention and assistance to all students. Tutors were utilized at a lower cost per hour, and faculty hours spent on developmental math were reduced by eliminating duplication of faculty responsibilities.
The mathematics department has had three faculty members retire over the past several years, and none have been replaced. Without the redesign of developmental math, it would be impossible to maintain integrity in all math courses with only eight full-time faculty.
Students saved tuition dollars since they were allowed to register for fewer hours in developmental math than would have been required in the past and they could complete their developmental requirements in a shorter length of time (i.e., in one term if they were motivated to do so.) Students did not have to pay for unnecessary coursework. Students could also adjust their schedules to suit life changes instead of having to withdraw from the course and lose the tuition they had paid for the course.
Clearly JSCC made a lot of changes in a very short time. The savings described above reflect what happened in the first year of redesign. JSCC anticipates even greater savings in the future due to three factors:
Since students could exit developmental math once required modules were completed based on declared educational goals, figuring out how to register and charge students for this radically new redesign was not trivial. In addition, JSCC had to also figure out how to phase in the redesign in the midst of normal operations. They were incredibly clever and resourceful in their solutions!
Since 12 modules were available and students could complete anywhere from one module to all 12 modules within a single semester, the team had to determine what each student should register for at the beginning of each semester. Three “shell courses” were created: Developmental Math I, Developmental Math II and Developmental Math III. No modules were assigned to any of the three “shell courses.” Instead, all new students enrolled in Developmental Math I and were required to complete at least four modules or all modules required if fewer than four. Students completing all required modules or at least four of the required modules passed Developmental Math I. The course grade was the average of the modules completed or all modules required if fewer than four.
One of three things happened at the end of the semester:
In the next semester, Developmental Math I and II were offered.
In the next semester, Developmental Math I, II and III were offered.
During spring 2008, the three developmental courses were offered using the module concept. Redesigned sections were offered in the SMART Math Center whereas traditional sections were taught in traditional classrooms.
During fall 2008, only one “shell course,” Developmental Mathematics I, was offered for all redesigned sections, and all students, both new and returning students who had not completed previous developmental math coursework, were enrolled in that course. New students were assessed to determine deficient modules. Returning students began with the first required module not successfully completed the semester before.
During spring 2009, Developmental Math I was taken by new students and those not passing Development Math I during the fall 2008 semester. A student not passing a Developmental Math course had to enroll in the same “shell course” the next term and begin with the first required module not completed. Developmental Math II was offered for students who had passed Developmental Math I but still had more modules to complete. Instructors guided the study of students in combined sections of Developmental Math I and II with each student possibly working on any one of the 12 modules.
During fall 2009, all three “shell courses” are being offered as described above.
The “shell course” grade was the average of the four (or fewer if required) modules completed. If a student completed more than four modules, the extra module grades were averaged as part of the next “shell course” grade if more modules were needed. The modules completed when enrolled the first time were then counted toward the modules required to complete the course. A student early-exiting developmental math based on educational goals was graded on the required modules. The team is still searching for a way to indicate that the grade was based on the student’s declared major.
Tracking modules completed by students has been a monumental task for JSCC. A table was created within SOATEST/Banner to indicate modules completed for each student. When a module was indicated as complete, the student could then enroll in any college course for which the module was a prerequisite. Periodically during the term, each instructor reported modules completed by the students. The team is working to automate the process of tracking students’ module completion and reporting to Banner.
Groups vs. Individualization
The team originally planned to hold weekly focus groups. In spring 2008, the focus groups were somewhat successful since the students were enrolled in specific courses. However, beginning in fall 2008, focus groups were not very effective since students in any given section could be working on any of the 12 modules. In addition, those students not having particular problems did not want to leave the lab where they were working on their modules to attend a weekly meeting—a delightful problem to have. In addition, the creation of Guided Studies successfully replaced much of the expected need for focus groups by structuring each student’s learning experience. Focus groups were not attempted in spring 2009 except at the beginning of the term for orientation purposes where instructors explained the syllabus, the concept of modules and the opportunities the redesign offered.
The team still hopes to use focus groups at the beginning of the semester to help students improve study skills, identify learning styles and understand the SMART Math processes. Some students complained that they missed having a teacher, and the team wishes to fill that need or at least help the students understand that they have the best of all options. Also, with all shell courses now being offered each term, one instructor can be assigned to only Developmental Math I or Developmental Math II or Developmental Math III with the students more likely to be working on the same competencies.
By any measure, JSCC’s redesign of their developmental math program has been an outstanding success. Because it is still early in the redesign process, in all likelihood both student learning and cost reduction can be expected to increase even further.
It may be tempting for some to say that JSCC’s success has been achieved primarily by “changing the rules” since the developmental math requirement for a large number of students has been substantially reduced. The data presented above, however, shows clearly that student learning has increased under the redesign and that only the “early-exit” aspect is influenced by the change in policy.
JSCC has decided that it is more important to prepare students to succeed in the future than to remediate the past. That is a decision that every institution struggling with low student success rates in developmental math will need to make. If you decide that requiring students to sit through courses that will not be needed in their programs of study simply delays or prevents them from moving forward and does not add value to their overall education, JSCC’s innovative model shows a clear way to implement that decision. If you decide to maintain the same developmental math requirements, JSCC’s innovative model also shows a clear way to implement that decision in a way that will increase student success.
We congratulate JSCC on their magnificent achievement!
--Carol A. Twigg
Featuring updates and announcements from the Center.
From working with large numbers of students, faculty and institutions over the past 10 years, NCAT has learned what works and what does not work in improving student achievement in both developmental and college-level mathematics. The pedagogical techniques leading to greater student success are equally applicable to both developmental and college-level mathematics. The underlying principle is simple: Students learn math by doing math, not by listening to someone talk about doing math. Interactive computer software combined with personalized, on-demand assistance and mandatory student participation are the key elements of success. NCAT calls this model for success, the Emporium Model, named after what the model’s originator, Virginia Tech, called its initial course redesign. NCAT has gathered a number of resources related to math redesign in one place on its web site. Links include summaries of learning and cost results of successful math redesigns, case studies of exceptionally successful redesigns, articles on college-level and developmental math, and FAQs about how to structure a math emporium. We anticipate growing this section of our web site substantially in the coming months. To access this new resource, see http://www.thencat.org/RedMathematics.htm.
Carol Twigg has joined a National Academy of Sciences panel that will conduct a study on measuring higher education productivity. The panel will develop a conceptual framework for measuring productivity and describe the data needs for that framework. An overarching goal of the study will be to catalogue (and not side-step) the complexities of measuring productivity and monitoring accountability in higher education. In particular, the panel will take into account the great variety of types and missions of higher education institutions in the United States, ranging from open admission colleges to major research universities that compete on an international scale. The panel will also address the necessity to consider quality issues when attempting to measure productivity. At the conclusion of its study, the panel will issue a report with findings and recommendations that will be written for a broad audience that includes national and state policymakers, system and institution administrators and higher education faculty. The project is sponsored by Lumina Foundation for Education. For more information, including a list of panel members, see http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/projectview.aspx?key=49147.
Carolyn Jarmon has joined the advisory board of the Community College Open Learning Initiative (CC-OLI), a new project focused on community colleges recently launched by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Lead by Candace Thille, an NCAT Redesign Scholar, this project will work with a consortium of community colleges that will use course materials developed by CMU to improve student completion rates in gate-keeper courses by 25%. Courses using these materials will be designed by teams of community-college faculty experts, scientists who study how people learn, human-computer-interaction specialists and software engineers. Data on student learning outcomes will be collected and benchmarked. NCAT is pleased to be involved in this important new program. To learn more about CC-OLI, contact Candace Thille at email@example.com.
As many of you are unfortunately experiencing, funding for higher education is declining in almost every state in the country while the number of students seeking to enter colleges and universities is increasing. A recent article in U.S.News and World Report, “Budget Cuts Take a Toll on Education,” describes the consequences of this situation and observes, “Some influential analysts say too many colleges are reacting in shortsighted ways that will undermine the institutions themselves, as well as the opportunities for socioeconomic mobility that are at the core of American society.”
In contrast, the article observes, “A few educational visionaries are experimenting with radical course redesigns to save money and give more students a better shot at graduating. Robert Olin, dean of arts and sciences at the University of Alabama, has overseen the creation of a math lab that has revolutionized entry-level classes.” The article goes on to cite other course redesigns around the country.
Declaring “Those colleges that are just cutting courses or having instructors lecture in front of ever bigger classes will simply offer lower quality. They won't have solved the structural problems that have led to high costs and low graduation rates,” the article concludes with a quote from Carol Twigg: “Thinking differently . . . is the only solution."
Those of you who are actively engaged in course redesign or who have completed sustainable redesigns know that you are “thinking differently” and making a difference for your students and for your institution. To read the full article, see http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/best-colleges/2009/08/19/budget-cuts-take-toll-on-education.html?PageNr=1
We are frequently asked whether the course redesigns that were conducted as part of prior NCAT programs have been sustained and if the original results continue to be achieved. Those of you who have participated in the Redesign Alliance Annual Conference know that many institutions continue to collect data and document their success. The University of Alabama, for example, recently reported that student success rates in Intermediate Algebra for fall 2008 were 78.1% compared with 40.6% in fall 1999 prior to the redesign. At the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the redesign of College Algebra originally completed in 2006 as part of the Roadmap to Redesign Program continues to show success. Prior to the redesign, about 50% of the students passed the course with a grade of C or better. In fall 2008, the student success rate was 80%.
NCAT has decided to investigate the sustainability question with past project leaders, asking them to send us updated data if possible. Here are some early responses:
The redesign of Introductory Psychology at the University of Southern Maine (USM) was originally completed in 2001 and continues to be implemented. As part of the first round of the Pew-funded Program in Course Redesign, USM was not required to redesign the entire course. Today, all but one section is offered in the redesigned format. In AY 2008-09, the percentage of As and Bs for the one traditional section of 88 students was 37.5% vs. 56% for the 675 students in the redesigned sections. The percentage of Ds and Fs for the traditional and redesigned sections were the same (21%.) In the first year following the original redesign, the cost-per-student was reduced but not as much as had been expected. A new administration has taken a renewed interest in the redesign, and several large sections have been scheduled this year, which are reducing costs according to the original plan without sacrificing learning effectiveness. To learn more, contact John Broida at Broida@usm.maine.edu.
At Florida Gulf Coast University, the cost-per-student in the redesigned format of Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts continues to be less than it was under the traditional model. Using today’s dollars, if the 3,200 students enrolled in AY 2009-2010 were taught in the traditional format (54 sections of 60 students), the cost-per-student would be $133. The redesigned format (eight sections of 400 students) results in a cost-per-student of $53. An original goal of the redesign was to address the problem of offering ever-increasing numbers of course sections on a limited resource base. When the redesign was completed in 2003, there were about 800 students in the course. Now four times that many students are enrolled. The redesign eliminated course drift, ensuring a consistent learning experience for all students. Prior to redesign, the percentage of students earning an A or B on hourly exams in the traditional format was 37%. After the first year of redesign, the percentage was 77% and in fall 2008, the percentage was 70%. To learn more, contact Jim Wohlpart at Wohlpart@fgcu.edu.
In future issues, we plan to provide additional updates about how the redesigns have or have not been sustained, how these redesigns are evolving and an analysis of what we have learned about sustainability.
Featuring initiatives to scale course redesign through state- and system-wide redesign programs.
The fifteen projects that are part of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Course Redesign Initiative have moved their redesign pilots to full implementation during fall 2009. Project teams spent summer 2009 revising their redesign plans as needed and preparing to allow all students to realize the benefits of a more active learning environment. Teams from many of these projects will give full reports at the Redesign Alliance Conference in March 2010 described below. Brief summaries of their progress with contact information are presented below.
Projects at Mississippi State University (MSU)
Full implementation is underway for both Plants and Humans and Animal Biology with enrollment in both courses doubled. Both courses quickly filled during registration, reinforcing the original redesign goal of accommodating more students in non-major biology courses. Students enrolled in the Plants and Humans course view recorded lectures through Blackboard outside of class. In-class time is spent reviewing content by using “clicker questions” and application exercises, class activities and group discussions. Grades will be determined by performance on module quizzes, midterm and final exams, and class participation. Students enrolled in Animal Biology have mini-lectures during face-to-face class time and supplemental content delivered through Blackboard outside of class. Students will apply course content in six group projects throughout the semester. Initial student response to the first group project has been unfavorable, however. The team hopes that students will come to understand the value of the projects and become comfortable in their groups. Performance on exams, group projects and class participation will determine students’ grades. Virtual labs continue to be problematic since students are confused about how to run a virtual experiment. An emporium-style lab with teaching assistants available to give students individualized assistance will be implemented in the next few weeks, which the team hopes will get a favorable reaction from students. To learn more, contact Nancy Reichert at NReichert@biology.msstate.edu.
The full implementation of Survey of Chemistry I appears to be going well. A pilot redesigned section was completed during fall 2008. On the last day of the semester, students were given six survey questions so that the team could learn what worked and did not work from the students’ point of view. In many cases, the students’ concerns were relatively easy to address. A large number of concerns had to do with the timing of posting the modules. Since all modules were ready at the beginning of the fall 2009 semester, the problem has been solved. The second major complaint was that it was not clear to students that the course was web-based with only one meeting a week. This information has now been publicized in a number of ways. During summer 2009, all three faculty team members and a high-school teacher watched all of the online modules and decided how each could be improved. The course modules were re-recorded as needed. The team has also added more problems to the online homework system, Chem21Labs. Course enrollment is down slightly compared to last year. Currently, only a small number of web-based courses are offered at MSU, but the number of requests from students for web-based courses is increasing. The team believes that enrollment will increase when the web-based format of this course becomes better known. To learn more, contact Svein Saebo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The redesign of Introduction to Statistics is now fully implemented. The three-hour course is now organized into a one-hour lecture, a one-hour recitation and two hours of lab work per week. Two large lecture sections are taught by full-time faculty who also oversee 12 recitation sections taught by graduate teaching assistants (GTAs). The registration and scheduling problems encountered in the pilot have been resolved. Every student now registers for both a lecture and recitation section simultaneously, ensuring that each student’s lecture section precedes his or her recitation. As a result, organization and coordination of the multiple sections has begun smoothly. During summer 2009, the team continued to work on course materials including PowerPoint presentations, online homework, quiz questions and demonstration problems to be covered in the recitation sessions. In particular, additional problems were designed to target the areas of weakness identified by item analyses of the tests and final exam during the pilot phase. The major area for improvement has been to define the responsibilities of the GTAs teaching the recitation sessions. Although all departmental GTAs participate in a mandatory semester-long teaching workshop, the redesign team needs to develop a training manual specifically for this course. This document will make the course organization and the role and responsibilities of the GTAs clear. It will also include an introduction to the course management system used in the course. To learn more, contact Mohsen Razzaghi at email@example.com.
During summer 2009, the team analyzed data from the pilot redesign of Statics conducted in spring 2009. Students in the redesigned sections performed slightly better than the traditional sections. Survey results indicated that 77% of the students were satisfied with the Emporium Model, 80% thought the hands-on laboratory exercises helped them understand concepts, and 86% said that they worked more problems than they would have in the traditional approach. The team hired additional undergraduate assistants to work in the emporium during the increased hours necessary for full implementation. There are now about 240 students takingStatics in seven sections, all using the Emporium Model. Early on, the team found that a large number of students showed up at extra emporium sessions in the afternoon, overwhelming classroom capacity. (These sessions were meant to accommodate the students who were unable to complete their assignments during the regular emporium hours.) The team responded by increasing the afternoon hours by one hour each day and establishing a web-based vacancy/occupancy indicator. The indicator is updated every 15 minutes so students can check the occupancy status before coming to the lab. The team plans to expand classroom size by next fall to accommodate a larger group of students. There have been no technology problems; all students can easily access the online content in and outside of the emporium. The most pressing issue is the time spent on manual grading of quizzes. In redesigning the course, the team went from four in-class tests to ten in-class quizzes in order to assess student learning more accurately. Although students submit their assignments online and receive full or zero credit for correct or incorrect solutions, the in-class quizzes are graded by hand in order to assign partial credit for the correct portion of the solution to each problem. As yet, the team has not found a viable approach to deal with this issue. The faculty are in the process of preparing a paper on the redesign for the American Society for Engineering Education’s annual conference in June 2010. To learn more, contact Masoud Rais-Rohan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Projects at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM)
The spring 2009 pilot of the General Psychology redesign was plagued with problems. The main source of the problems was an online platform that did not live up to expectations. The good news is that the data yielded no significant difference in student performance between the pilot and the traditionally taught sections in spite of the rash of the unforeseen challenges. During summer 2009, the focus was to debug and re-tool the delivery of the redesigned section. The next step was to partner with a software provider that could meet the needs of the redesign, with the level of commitment and service that the redesign demands. Mc Graw-Hill stepped up to the plate with the CONNECT platform, and thus far the team’s needs have been met and expectations far exceeded. Overall student performance is nearly 10 points higher (the equivalent of an entire letter grade) than what has been seen traditionally. It seems that the CONNECT platform and the laboratory sections are the core contributors to the robust increase in student performance. In the future, the department plans to offer only larger sections that will include these rich pedagogical components. To learn more, contact David Echevarria at email@example.com.
Keeping current in the computing field requires frequent updating! The textbook series used for the spring 2009 pilot of redesigned Introduction to Computing was updated to a newer version for the fall 2009 full implementation. The textbook change required updates to the course content in Blackboard and provided an opportunity to revisit the “low stakes quizzes” and testing concepts used for content delivery. This analysis and updating occurred over the summer, and changes were in place for the beginning of fall semester. As the post-pilot assessment of the redesign indicated that the redesign “caused no harm” to students’ learning, the methodology used during the pilot continues during full implementation, with the changes reflected in the content itself and not in the delivery mechanism. At this point, the redesign team is pleased to report that scaling from the pilot to full implementation appears to be going well. The team continues to explore ways to manage a larger number of students while more actively engaging them in learning. With a decrease in expenditures experienced at the university this term, the redesign has allowed the course to incorporate the students who need it as well as provide increased student engagement with the content. To learn more, contact Nancy Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three fully online sections of Nutrition and Food Systems were offered during the summer session using the redesigned format. Also during summer 2009, the redesign team reviewed the common exam questions, quiz questions and learning activities and made adjustments for fall 2009. Any exam questions where 50% or more of the students did not answer correctly were reviewed to identify useful revisions. In addition, the team decided to increase the number of questions on each chapter quiz from 10 to 25 to provide additional practice for students with the course content. Based on student comments and a review of student performance on the course exams, the team decided to increase the number of summative exams from four to six, allowing the two exams that covered six chapters to be subdivided. The team also elected to allow each of the summative exams to be available for two attempts to eliminate the need to reset an exam when technical problems occur. A comprehensive list of class activities was compiled and made available in Blackboard as optional activities for students taking a fully-online section of the course during fall 2009. All sections of the course for fall 2009 are using the redesigned format: recorded lectures, repeated quizzing, electronic text with pretests and individualized learning plans. The three face-to-face sections are using class time to work with learning activities based on student performance on the pretests for each chapter. In the initial weeks of the class, technology challenges continued to require significant attention, especially working with the course management system and helping students feel comfortable with the electronic resources. To learn more contact, Denise Brown at Denise.M.Brown@usm.edu.
During fall 2009, the team has fully implemented the redesign in the first-term sections and is piloting the redesign of the second-term sections in the two-course sequence of First Year Spanish. During the summer, the team obtained classroom space for the "Basic Spanish Redesign Classroom" in the same building where the department is housed and right next door to the Foreign Language Support Center--an exciting development, given the severe classroom space crunch at USM. The room is beautiful and ideal for language teaching and learning. While the team has seen improved student outcomes, they are also running into a number of headaches with the full implementation. First, there have been some dependability issues with the undergraduate assistants and language tutors in the support center. This is being resolved by the appointment of a Spanish faculty member to oversee all undergraduate assistants/tutors and to create a set of employment expectations and a check-in/-out system. Second, there have also been a number of technology problems (large numbers of students being timed out of exams, correct answers counted as wrong, ambiguous exercises, periodic system failures, etc.). Now that the USM coast campus is also working with the new system, technological and communication issues are exacerbated by the physical distance between coast and Hattiesburg faculty. Finally, the team has not been able to keep up with the demand for tutoring in the language support center—the department can only hire work-study eligible tutors and these are limited in number. Moreover, the dependability issues previously noted preclude offering tutoring/lab hours in the evening after the main office is closed. On the plus side, the dedication and commitment of the Spanish faculty has made the redesign work despite such difficulties. Faculty ownership continues to be key to the project’s success. All of the Spanish faculty have taken a very collaborative approach to teaching, sharing ideas, syllabi, lessons and materials. In November 2009 the team leader will present "Tips for Creating a Successful Spanish Hybrid Course" at an upcoming conference. To learn more, contact Leah Fonder-Solano at Leah.Fonder-Solano@usm.edu.
Full implementation of Technical Writing continues in fall 2009 with seven discussion sections totaling approximately 170 students enrolled in the course. In response to assessment data collected during the spring pilot, the team spent several weeks this summer readjusting the syllabus, incorporating more low-stakes assignments in the form of weekly online blog posts and lengthening the time students have to complete their group projects. Use of the Multimedia Writing Studio is heavy. Within the first three weeks of the semester, over 180 individual visits to the facility were logged in addition to five class meetings scheduled in the space. Despite some initial problems with students being able to access online readings using the courseware system (developed and maintained by the textbook partner, Cengage Learning), all technical aspects of the course now seem to be working smoothly. To learn more, contact Michael Mays at Michael.Mays@usm.edu.
Projects in Mathematics
The redesign of College Algebra at Alcorn State University has been implemented in all day sections using the Emporium Model. The Math Center, a Title III project, is working closely with the faculty members to support the need for computers and additional tutors. Students are required to spend at least four hours in the Math Center every week doing homework and testing. Evening tutoring hours from Monday to Thursday staffed by faculty members have been added. From 8/24/09 to 9/22/09, the Math Center recorded 2358 visits, the highest number since the Math Center was established in 2005. The students who are doing their work in the redesigned sections are doing well. However, about 50% of the students are not doing anything. Those students have been contacted and told to either start doing the work or drop the course. The team has received 25 emails from students promising to complete the work. The team has experienced some minor problems: 24 of 58 computers in the Math Center are out of order; some tutors did not report to work at the beginning of the semester, causing a shortage of tutors for a brief period; and some faculty members did not follow the details of the plan exactly. These problems are being addressed and corrected. After midterm exams, the team will review the results and make changes if needed. To learn more, contact Marchetta Atkins at email@example.com.
Delta State University took another step toward full implementation using the Emporium Model during fall 2009. The university is now teaching all sections of College Algebra and Intermediate Algebra in the redesigned format, with one section of College Algebra enrolling 81 students. This has been a major cultural change for the university since small class size has been a hallmark, but with current financial conditions the redesign has been a blessing. The mathematics department can only grow by gaining efficiencies rather than by gaining faculty. Further gains will be made in the spring 2010 semester when only two sections of College Algebra with a capacity of 170 students will be taught. The students are going through growing pains as the format is different from what they have experienced in the past. The students who have embraced the change and are taking advantage of a modern computer lab staffed with math tutors are doing well. Of the issues facing students, time management seems to be the largest obstacle to success in the redesigned course. In response, the math faculty members must become time management coaches, a new role for them. To learn more, contact David Hebert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Jackson State University the redesign of College Algebra has been fully implemented in 13 sections enrolling 766 students. All students enrolled have registered in MyMathLab. At the present, the completion rate for homework assignments and lab activities is at least 90%, a big improvement compared with the spring 2009 pilot sections. All students enrolled in College Algebra have also taken the pre-test and the results have been compiled and analyzed. Full implementation could not have come at a better time. In this time of economic challenges, the department has been able to cover the teaching cost for College Algebra with less difficulty because of the redesign. The team has also continued piloting one section of Intermediate Algebra enrolling 48 students to enable faculty to test the activities that were not implemented during the spring 2009 pilot. The extended pilot period is also needed to complete the renovation of the lab space. Thus far, about 80% of the students have signed on to MyMathLab. The average scores on homework, quizzes and tests are respectively 83%, 84% and 72%. To foster the development of independent learning, the following instructional strategies have been implemented: mastery learning, active learning, individual and cooperative learning activities, use of professional tutors during lab hours, and use of a CAI lab to facilitate instruction. The team also implemented several methods of intervention: tutorials using professional tutors, PLATO, and MyMathLab; after-hours study jams facilitated by math instructors to assist students who desire additional tutoring; and gateway assessment for students who desire to earn extra credit on unit exams. The team believes these strategies will allow students to gain a more in-depth understanding of the fundamental concepts, develop proficiency with math skills, expand understanding of math concepts, improve critical thinking and promote success with the aid of technology. All students enrolled in the pilot section have taken the pre-test and results have been compiled and analyzed. To learn more about both redesigns, contact Tor Kwembe at email@example.com.
Fall 2009 is the first semester of full implementation of the Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra redesigns at Mississippi University for Women. The term began much more smoothly than the spring 2009 pilot. Factors contributing to this positive beginning include: providing information to incoming freshmen at summer orientations about the redesign; having sufficient copies of the text and software at the bookstore (with no cases of used software being sold); completing further revision to the content and homework assignments; changing course policies such as allowing test re-takes to improve test scores rather than dropping one test score; removing the “time-on-task” requirement, which was very difficult to track; substituting completion of the homework assignments as evidence of time-on-task; and checking for printed copies of the PowerPoint lesson for the next class instead of checking notebooks for scratch work related to homework. Five weeks into the semester, the team is pleased with the effect of the modifications and has seen a pronounced improvement in student performance and persistence. In comparison to the pilot semester, a larger portion of the students are completing their homework assignments; scores on the first exam are much stronger; significantly fewer students dropped immediately following the first exam; students appear to be having fewer problems with the software; and fewer students are complaining about the teaching methodology. Areas that still need improvement include getting students to the Mathematics Laboratory to take advantage of the tutors and getting more students to take advantage of opportunities in the course structure to improve their grade such as test re-taking opportunities. Since students taking these courses in the fall semester are traditionally stronger than those taking it in the spring, results will be compared to previous fall semesters to understand the impact of course redesign. To learn more, contact Dorothy Kerzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The spring 2009 pilot of Intermediate Algebra at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU)was quite challenging, but the DFW rate dropped from 83% to 55%.MVSU is teaching four redesigned sections of up to 60 students during fall 2009 using the Emporium Model. In three sections, the instructor meets once a week with the students, and the students are required to spend three hours in a computer-based math lab each week. (Students meet in the lab during their regularly scheduled class time.) In the other section, there is no lecture time. The students meet in lab during their scheduled class time and are required to spend an additional hour and 45 minutes in the lab. During summer 2009, one section was offered each term. Students met with the instructor during the first hour and spent the second hour in the lab. Students were also required to spend an additional two hours in the lab. All faculty follow the common syllabus which includes the course content, the timeline for teaching the material, and the Hawkes Learning Systems software assignments and quizzes. The lab is fully staffed with instructors, undergraduate tutors and professional staff. To learn more, contact Latonya Garner at email@example.com.
The full implementation of the Intermediate Algebra redesign at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has changed drastically from the spring 2009 pilot. After attending two workshops designed to encourage community colleges to adopt the redesign format, the team totally restructured the format for Intermediate Algebra. During spring 2009 semester, students attended a lecture one day a week and were required to work in the Math Zone ( USM’s computer lab) for three hours a week. The course was divided into six units; the students took an un-proctored quiz on each homework assignment and then took six proctored tests. In fall 2009, no in-class lectures take place; instead students watch lecture videos online. Once-a-week class meetings are used for reminders of schedule dates, discussion with individual students regarding their progress, help with technical problems, small group instruction and individual help. Many students bring their laptops to class and work on homework there. Faculty provide teacher-made worksheets for those who do not have laptops. The course is divided into ten units with a proctored quiz at the end of each unit and a proctored mid-course test. The students are moving at their own pace through the course with the requirement that they must master the material of each section before moving on to the next section. A strength of this format observed by the team is that more students come to get help. Also, very few students have dropped the course so far. On the downside, many students are not where they should be in the material in order to finish by the end of the semester. And, there are no computers in the classroom (the larger computer lab which was supposed to be ready for this semester is still not ready), which makes class time less productive for some students than it would be. Challenges the team is working on include motivating students to watch the videos, encouraging students not to take a quiz multiple times without getting help, providing useful class meetings and training tutoring staff. To learn more, contact Janice Fletcher at Janice.Fletcher@usm.edu.
Based on what they learned during their spring 2009 pilots, eight campuses at the State University of New York have modified and improved their redesigns in preparation for full implementation in fall 2009. Teams from many of these projects will give full reports at the Redesign Alliance Conference in March 2010 described below. Brief summaries of their progress with contact information are presented below.
Buffalo State College is redesigning a large, introductory economics course. Previously offered in two sections of approximately 150 students, the redesigned course is offered as a hybrid course in a single large (300 students) section with the support of undergraduate learning assistants (ULAs). Students meet face-to-face once per week; the second meeting is replaced by online activities including reading materials, quizzes, study guides and activities. Each week students are expected to complete both an online quiz and respond to questions posed by the instructor in an online forum. Formative assessment from the spring 2009 pilot revealed that students did not fully understand the roles of the ULAs and lacked respect for them. The team improved the ULA training as well as the structure and definition of the ULAs’ roles. Their preparation included economics-content workshops along with intensive AN GEL training. This semester, the role of the ULAs is mostly online: each of six trained ULAs monitors the activities of approximately 40 students. The ULAs are also available once a week in a computer lab to assist students one–on-one. In-class lectures use clickers to increase interactivity and help the instructor recognize and address gaps in students’ understanding of difficult topics. For the future, the team has finalized formal agreements with two departments at the college (History and Social Studies Education; Elementary Education) to systematically recruit ULAs. Early stages of assessment using common exam items showed that students in the partially-redesigned course had a significantly higher percentage correct on the common items (M=67.89, SD = 19.15, n = 138) than those the traditional course (M=57.72, SD = 16.06, n = 158), p < .001. To learn more, contact Karen O’Quin at OQUINK@BuffaloState.edu.
The redesign of Introduction to Biology at SUNY Canton is moving forward, in spite of some unexpected personnel changes. The team is making adjustments and sharing roles as new tutors are hired. In addition the team has accommodated two outages of the course management system, which led to difficulties for students in completing the online activities. Despite these unanticipated challenges, the faculty have been mentoring the computer sessions and teaching large sections of 80 students, as anticipated, and the team reports that “the full implementation is working!” The students are engaged and faculty are better able to track and identify those students failing to engage in the online material. Intervention is easier and, at this point, consists of emails of requests for meetings and warnings. The team is, however, working on how best to intervene in a meaningful way. To learn more, contact David Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At SUNY Fredonia, the spring 2009 pilot semester of the redesign of Elementary Spanish went by quickly. The day-to-day activities were good and productive, and most students seemed to enjoy the new model. The original plan of not explaining grammar (because students had learned and practiced online) and going straight to the contextualized practice worked very well. The only problem arose when students did not keep up with the pace of the online portion and, therefore, were not ready for the class. The end-of-semester assessment (embedded exam questions) surprised the team: students from the traditional sections did slightly better than those from the redesigned ones. After further analysis, the team found that the type of questions on the final were different from the ones regularly included on the tests in the redesigned sections. The team worked to address the problems for full implementation in fall 2009. Every instructor involved in the course prepared and discussed the materials as a team over the summer and considered how to improve the assessment tool. The full implementation is running smoothly, and everything is settling down nicely. Faculty are now using more similar questions in the regular testing throughout the semester. Initially it was hard to organize and to monitor enrollment in the online portion for a higher number of students, but it has been done. The course software has been improved, and the team received good support from the publisher. The team is looking forward to the data collection at the end of this semester to evaluate the effectiveness of the redesigned course. To learn more, contact Juan DeUrda at Juan.DeUrda@fredonia.edu.
The redesign team at Niagara County Community College met several times during the summer to discuss strategies for full implementation of Introduction to Statistics. Efforts were focused on modifying the course to reflect the necessary changes that were identified during the pilot. Changes that were made include: 1) computerized homework with firm deadlines were created with zeros assigned at due dates, 2) short computerized quizzes are given in class, 3) hand-written tests are administered to avoid concerns regarding equitable partial credit, and 4) adjustments to the grading policy were made to accommodate these changes. The start-up for full implementation during fall 2009 looks promising based on students’ attendance and grades thus far. To learn more, contact Dan Miller at email@example.com.
The redesign of College Algebra at SUNY Old Westbury went into full operation during fall 2009 with four large sections of 75 each. During summer 2009, the institution bought more computers; now 82 machines in a math lab are dedicated to the redesigned course. To prepare for full implementation, the program coordinator had orientation meetings with faculty and lab support personnel; prepared new class schedules; ran orientations for students on the first day of classes (the team gave up trying to have those sessions before school starts); and, submitted ID numbers and names to WCOnline, which provides an internet-based "swipe-in/out" system for the lab and tracks individual lab hours. The team now has nearly 500 students (from College Algebra and another redesigned math course) coming through the lab each week to put in the required three-hour work periods. So far, the team has had no problems accommodating overall demand and providing faculty staffing in the lab in line with the shifting numbers of users. While the team does expect a few growing pains this year, the full implementation has gotten off to a good start. To learn more, contact Jim Llana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At SUNY Oswego, faculty and staff spent summer 2009 preparing for full implementation of their College Algebra redesign. After attending the SUNY Course Redesign Mid-Course Workshop in June 2009, the team spent the summer “retooling” the redesign based on what they learned. One refinement of the pilot was to simplify and improve the scheduling of the weekly face-to-face meetings with the instructors and to institute mandatory lab periods. This alteration greatly simplified record-keeping, standardized deadlines for online homework and quizzes among sections and gave students more opportunity to meet with their instructor and “face-to-face” classmates in lab. Weekly online quizzes were altered in length and content based on an analysis of data related to quizzes collected during spring semester. Course policies and course deadlines were re-examined in light of the experience from the pilot, and some changes were made. A new syllabus and “Quick Guide for Students” were created. Arrangements were made for the use of two computer labs for the fall semester, and Vision computer software was purchased and installed in both labs to monitor student activities while in lab. Five undergraduate learning assistants (ULAs) were hired during the summer to staff the computer labs. An orientation/training session was held at the beginning of the fall semester for the ULAs and faculty involved in the course. The practice of holding a weekly staff meeting has continued to provide an opportunity to discuss issues that arose during the week and plan for the upcoming week. The redesign of College Algebra has taken root, and the team is optimistic about student learning outcomes. To learn more, contact Patricia Pacitti at email@example.com.
In fall 2009, the team at SUNY Potsdam kicked off the full implementation of their European History and American History redesigns with an all day workshop for the crew of 10 Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULAs) and four graduate “Virtual Preceptors” (VPs). Four of the ULAs and two of the VPs returned from last spring’s pilot. The students in the two redesigned courses have the exclusive use of a new computer lab outfitted with 36 new, large-screen Macs and new furniture for 60 hours a week. Enrollments are a bit lower than initially projected, which may prove to be a cause for concern, but for now gives the team some needed breathing room. The human side of the course is off and running well. The technological side continues to keep the team busy. The redesign integrates clicker technology in the one hour of traditional lecture each week, primarily to track attendance and encourage active listening. The team assigned one of the VPs, a graduate student in Instructional Technology, the task of teaching faculty what he knows and ameliorating the technological woes. Another VP is working on a Blackboard-based instructional manual, available to all members of the teaching team, which will capture and preserve all the procedures and policies the team has been creating on the fly. To learn more, contact Krista Medo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the SUNY Course Redesign Initiative, see http://www.thencat.org/States/NY/SUNY%20Project%20Descriptions.htm.
Featuring progress reports and outcomes achieved by the C2R program.
Pilots for the third round of the Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) projects are underway and are going well. Teams will collect comparative learning and cost data as part of their pilots and will give reports at the Redesign Alliance Conference in March 2010 described below. Full abstracts of these projects are available at http://www.thencat.org/RedesignAlliance/C2R/Rd3ProjDesc.htm.
Coppin State University is well into the pilot implementation of its Technology Fluency redesign, a required course for all undergraduate students, enrolling ~510 students annually. The redesign, using the Buffet Model, is incorporating new techniques and strategies to provide a consistent learning experience which addresses the range of students’ computer skills and learning styles. When fully implemented, students will be able to take the course in a face-to-face, hybrid or online format and switch among the delivery formats whenever necessary without restrictions. The pilot is going well, and students like the modularization and test-outs. One issue that emerged is the start-up time that students need to buy the course materials and gain an understanding of the course requirements. To accommodate this situation, students were given more time to test-out of the Access and PowerPoint modules without affecting their overall course progress. A second challenge due to the budget approval process was a delay in hiring and training the undergraduate learning assistants (ULAs). This situation will be avoided for the spring 2010 semester by preparing the ULAs by the end of the fall 2009 semester. Based on preliminary observations, sections for the full implementation in spring 2010 have been set up. To learn more, contact Lidan Ha at LHa@coppin.edu.
The redesign of College Reading at Edison State College, which enrolls ~1000 students annually, is well underway with 250 students participating in the fall pilot. The redesigned course, using the Replacement Model, provides consistency in content and delivery across sections. Students progress through the course with individualized, self-paced programs of differentiated instruction appropriate to their skill levels. As students become familiar with the program and using the software, they are excited about the new design and have good attitudes. If they work hard, they can finish their coursework early and move into college level classes. Major challenges have involved obtaining materials from publishers in a timely fashion and building a server to host one of the programs. The software is now installed, and staff members are working on the technical problems. In the meantime, they are assigning MyReadingLab as homework and using Read On in the lab. The spring schedule will offer more sections. Creation of a “Reading/Writing Emporium” for next year is under discussion and, if implemented, two additional redesigned courses will be offered. To learn more, contact Mary Myers at email@example.com.
Morehead State University is well into the implementation of its College Algebra redesign. The course, enrolling ~600 students annually, is required for nine degree programs and is a prerequisite for several science and technology courses. The redesign, using the Emporium Model, reduces class time from three hours to one plus three required hours in the laboratory. Students work in small groups as well as engage in independent problem-solving, accessing individualized assistance as necessary. Course syllabi and common tests ensure consistency in course delivery across sections. In the redesign pilot, three instructors are teaching four redesigned sections and three traditional sections. Students have taken the first exam. Although in all cases the differences were not statistically significant, the redesigned classes scored slightly better than the traditional classes taught by two of the instructors. The team encountered an issue posed by one of the instructors assigning partial credit. The problem was addressed by allowing students a second chance on the first exam. In the future, the software used for the course will program the partial credit. One early indicator of student engagement in the learning process is their increased use of lab time. To learn more, contact Dora Ahmadi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Regis University, the redesign of Essentials of Writing, a developmental writing course traditionally serving ~140 students whose entering essays do not meet college-level writing standards, is well underway. The redesign eliminates this developmental course and develops required first courses in all majors, using the first writing assignment in these courses plus the results of a comprehensive grammar quiz to assess student writing skills. Students submit their first course assignment to SMARTHINKING. Exercises in MyCompLab allow students to practice their writing skills in the context of ongoing, individualized course assignments so that students do not have to do auxiliary writing assignments. SMARTHINKING evaluations of subsequent assignments are reviewed by a writing tutor who works with students online or face-to-face if needed. The major course in the pilot is Business Essentials in a Sustainable Environment, the first course in the Regis business program. The project team has developed a set of rubrics and competencies that are mapped to the rubrics. When grading the first assignments, they learned that the competencies were too detailed. They have now streamlined and mapped them to assignments that have been created in MyCompLab to specifically develop the competency. To learn more, contact Jennifer Mauldin at email@example.com.
Santa Fe College’s redesigned Intermediate Algebra pilot is off to a good start. Intermediate Algebra is the college’s largest math course, enrolling ~2760 students annually. Using a modified Emporium Model, the redesigned course achieves consistency across sections with all students completing the same assignments, quizzes and tests. Each section meets twice a week. In one session, students work in small groups, discussing concepts. The second session is in the Math Studio where students complete online assignments using MyMathLab. The students also schedule an additional required 75-minute block each week in the Math Studio. Early challenges included insufficient materials in the bookstore. The team incorporated other learning activities during lab time for those who had to wait. The in-house system used to monitor attendance has experienced problems, and there is a plan to invest in a new system. In the initial phase, students seem happy with the design and presentation of materials. Instructors are impressed with how much effort the students have put forth from the very beginning. The new Math Studio is up and running and well staffed with tutors to assist the instructors as they help students during lab time. The team is pleased with the time and effort students are spending on task in MyMathLab and confident that the redesign will lead to increased learning and student success. To learn more, contact Steve Grosteffon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is well into the implementation of its Principles of Biology redesign. This course, the first-semester course in a two-semester sequence designed for science and health profession majors, enrolls ~550 students annually. The redesign, using the Replacement Model, requires students to attend one 50-minute computer-based lecture session each week and spend at least two hours in the learning resource center which features online resources and on-demand personalized assistance. The faculty members are meeting with one another to coordinate lectures between the traditional and the redesigned sections. Identical first exams have been administered, and the grading outcomes are pending. A confusing online registration process caused problems initially but this was quickly resolved. Five of the 55 registered students have not purchased the online material and are not performing the computer assignments. The reason for this problem needs to be determined. An early benefit for students in the redesigned section is that they are completing their homework earlier and meeting deadlines so that two days prior to the first exam, their assignments were completed and they were prepared for the review session. To learn more, contact Joseph Pitula at email@example.com.
At the University of North Carolina Charlotte, the redesign of Spanish is successfully underway. This entry-level course is the first of a two-semester sequence enrolling ~800 students annually. Using the Replacement Model, one of the two classroom sessions has been replaced with online materials and assignments. Classroom time focuses on proficiency-oriented communicative learning activities using Spanish. Early challenges included the lack of a sufficient number of course packages (some students had to wait for one to three weeks before the bookstore made the materials available.) These students, as well as those who entered the class towards the end of the drop/add period, missed online work deadlines and the instructors had to then customize their assignments according to those students’ individual needs. Students entering the class after the first day tended to be disoriented and created heavy email traffic that instructors had to answer even though all of the information is readily available online. Informal reports received from faculty-tutors indicate that students are underutilizing the tutoring services. Early indicators reflect successful face-to-face sessions. Instructors are reporting that students seem to be more participatory and more willing to speak in the target language compared to students in the traditional class who seem more reluctant to speak Spanish. Four of the ten face-to-face instructional periods in one pilot class have already been videotaped. The remaining six will be taped. Each of these videotaped sessions shows how to teach the ten instructional sessions that are taught in one semester. Data collection is occurring on schedule, and instructors are reporting a noticeable decline in email traffic compared to the first three weeks. A midterm course survey is in the final design stage. It will be given to the two traditional and six redesigned sections taught by the two instructors involved in the project. To learn more, contact Garvey Pyke at J.G.Pyke@uncc.edu.
Featuring updates from the Alliance, a member organization of institutions, organizations and companies committed to and experienced with large-scale course redesign.
Registration is now open for the Fourth Annual Redesign Alliance Conference that will be held March 28-30, 2010 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, FL. This conference will provide an exciting opportunity to learn more about course redesign and share ideas with those who have accomplished a successful redesign as well as those who are working on one right now. Building on the highly successful 2007, 2008 and 2009 conferences, each of which had an attendance of 300 - 400 people, the 2010 conference promises to be even more engaging. Since last year’s conference, more new large-scale course redesigns have been launched. The program will feature examples from academic areas such as engineering, history, nutrition, physics and technical writing as well as redesigns in core areas such as developmental math and English, Spanish and psychology, to name a few. Registration information and the preliminary agenda are available at http://www.thencat.org/RedesignAlliance/Conference10.htm.
Early registration is available through February 26, 2010 and offers a $100 savings for those registering prior to that date. Final registration closes on March 19, 2010. Be sure to “save your seat” and register early!
Poster sessions at the 2009 Redesign Alliance Conference were highly successful and will be repeated and expanded at the 2010 conference. The goal of the sessions is to showcase additional good ideas and best practices beyond what is on the formal conference program. Posters will highlight the innovative ways that institutions are approaching course redesign. The sessions will allow one-on-one discussion between attendees and presenters, creating an informal opportunity to exchange ideas. The poster sessions will be held on Monday, March 29 from 4:30 to 6:00 pm adjacent to the poolside reception. To learn more about this conference session or to apply to be part of it, see http://www.thencat.org/RedesignAlliance/PosterSession.htm. The application deadline is January 30, 2010.
Over 90 faculty and administrators attended the day-long workshop entitled Increasing Student Success in Developmental Math on October 16, 2009 in Nashville, TN. Because a long waiting list emerged for this workshop, the workshop will be repeated on November 6, 2009 in Nashville, TN. This has filled to capacity as well.
The workshop highlighted the recently completed initiative by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) in partnership with NCAT to reform the TBR developmental math and English curriculum. The goal was to improve student success while reducing costs to both students and institutions. Three TBR institutions have demonstrated excellent results: Austin Peay State University, Cleveland State Community College and Jackson State Community College. These three institutions joined NCAT and the TBR in sharing their redesign approaches and successes achieved.
Presenters described their approaches to modularizing the developmental math curriculum and the successes they have achieved in increasing student learning while reducing instructional costs. They discussed how they overcame the challenges they encountered as well as how they continue to refine and expand their redesigns. Participants took the opportunity to talk with presenters individually as well as asking questions of each other in small-group exchanges. The conversations were wide-ranging and demonstrated the importance of this topic to many two- and four-year institutions across the United States. Presenter slides from this workshop are available at http://www.thencat.org/RedesignAlliance/TBRWorkshop.htm.
People frequently ask us, “How can our institution get started on course redesign? What should we do first?” The Redesign Alliance and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) are co-sponsoring Getting Started on Course Redesign, a seminar for those who are thinking about beginning a redesign project. The day-long event will be held on the UNC-CH campus in Chapel Hill, NC, on November 13, 2009.
The seminar will provide participants the opportunity to learn about how redesign efforts have begun at both four- and two-year institutions and how these initial redesigns has spread to other departments on campus. Representatives from UNC-CH and Tallahassee Community College will share their experiences with initiating course redesigns in more than one academic area. The agenda includes plenty of time for discussion, including an interactive exercise to help attendees think about how to get started.
The registration fees, which cover lunch and breaks, are $60 for Redesign Alliance members and $120 for attendees whose institutions and companies are not members of the Alliance. The preliminary agenda as well as information regarding registration and the seminar location can be found at http://www.thencat.org/RedesignAlliance/UNCCHWorkshop.htm. If you have questions about this workshop, contact Carolyn Jarmon at cjarmon@theNCAT.org. This will be an exciting event for those who are ready to get started on their own course redesigns. We look forward to seeing you there!
Linking content and software providers with leading edge institutions.
Approximately 200 faculty and administrators participated in Pearson’s most recent course redesign workshop in Miami Beach, FL on September 25-26, 2009. Pearson designed the workshop around the critical question of improving student learning in large introductory courses in both quantitative and qualitative disciplines. Following a keynote address by NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon, attendees had the opportunity to hear from faculty members experienced in course redesign who were able to provide in-depth case studies to guide those considering a project. Experienced instructors offered tangible examples of improved learning, increased student retention and contained costs in such diverse fields as math, economics, accounting, chemistry, biology, Spanish, developmental writing and freshman composition. The size of this event is another indicator that course redesign is achieving widespread visibility among a significant number of faculty members and attracting interest from a broad cross section of institutions. To learn more about Pearson events featuring course redesign, contact Karen Mullane at Karen.Mullane@pearson.com.
Does your company want an opportunity to interact with the faculty and administrative leaders who are actively increasing student learning and reducing instructional costs through course redesign? If the answer is yes, you should join the Redesign Alliance. At the Redesign Alliance Annual Conference, corporate members have many ways to introduce their products and services to institutions that are beginning to think about a redesign. These colleagues are seeking information about components that can contribute to a successful course redesign. Exhibits on Sunday evening at the opening reception and hospitality suites dedicated to small-group consultations and conversations offer corporate members substantial opportunity to connect with potential partners. If your company is not a member of the Redesign Alliance, now is the time to join. Be part of a group that seeks to make a real difference in higher education. To learn more, see http://www.thencat.org/RA.htm or contact Carolyn Jarmon at cjarmon@theNCAT.org.
Reporting on initiatives that share the Center's goals and objectives.
With support from a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Lake Michigan College (LMC), a two-year institution in Benton Harbor , MI , is redesigning all science courses offered at the college. The project, “Improving Student Success, Retention and Graduation through Transformation of the Science program,” seeks to address the issues of outdated science curricula, instrumentation and labs; poor student preparation; and low retention rates. LMC is using NCAT materials and consulting assistance to improve student learning, while controlling instructional costs. The grant has funded a renovation of old science labs and provided release time for faculty to plan and reorganize the curriculum. The biology team is piloting the redesign of nine courses during fall 2009; they have integrated the lecture and lab into one time unit and will switch between theory and application as each class proceeds. The chemistry and physics faculty are working on the redesign of 13 courses this year. Anticipated results of the five-year project include: nine renovated science labs, 22 science course redesigns, improved student success in science courses, increased college retention rate of students taking science and increased three-year graduation rates of science majors. In addition, LMC will develop and implement a developmental science program and a scientific research methods course to address the varying skill levels of their students. To learn more, contact Paige Eagan at Eagan@lakemichigancollege.edu.
Pitt Community College ( PCC) in Greenville, NC, initially redesigned English Composition in 2001. The results have led to the redesign of the foreign language program and the college transfer advising program. While PCC was not a member of a formal NCAT program, the redesign efforts have incorporated many of the principles and methods that NCAT advocates. PCC clearly identified the problem they were trying to solve, formed a team of faculty and administrators, piloted the redesign and evaluated the outcomes for continuous improvement. The redesigns have led to greater course consistency, greater student engagement with the content and improvement in student skills as appropriate to each situation. In the composition program, the retention rate has increased from 64% to 73%, and the pass rate has increased from 77% to 80%. In the Spanish redesign, the institution has also seen an increase in retention and pass rates, as well as increased enrollment in upper-level course offerings. The redesign of the transfer advising program has shown an increase from 79% to 87% in PCC’s performance measure for transfer student success. Overall, PCC has incorporated technology appropriately in each area, documented the value to the institution and changed how faculty and staff think about working with students. To learn more, contact Patricia Baldwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With support from a five-year Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Tallahassee Community College ( TCC) has redesigned its entire developmental studies program currently enrolling ~5400 students. T he project, “ Increase Student Retention and G raduation by Re-Engineering Student Support Services and Reforming Developmental Education,” includes developmental English, reading and mathematics. About 60% of new students enrolling at TCC place into at least one developmental course, and 27% require at least one course in all three areas. The new initiative will 1) re-engineer the college’s fragmented student support services by providing students with a comprehensive assessment of skills and interests, 2) establish an effective orientation to the learning community, 3) create a computerized tracking and support system, 4) redesign the curriculum and methods of instruction, 5) train faculty and staff, and 6) establish a culture of assessment. The redesigned curriculum is being taught for the first time during fall 2009 and focuses on moving students more quickly into college-level courses. To learn more, contact Sally Search at email@example.com.
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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