Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

Course Title: Introduction to Sociology
Contact: Robert White

Status: This project originated as part of NCAT’s Pew-funded Program in Course Redesign (PCR) program, 1999 – 2003, and was successfully completed.

Descriptive Materials: In addition to the project description below, links for this project include a full academic plan, a full cost savings plan, a completed Course Planning Tool (CPT) an interim progress report, and a final project report. The final project report describes the impact of the redesign on student learning and student retention; final cost savings achieved; techniques that most contributed to improved learning and reduced costs; and, as assessment of future sustainability.

Project Plan:
Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) plans to redesign Introduction to Sociology, which is required of all students in the Schools of Nursing and Social Work and used to fulfill the distribution requirements in several other schools including Business and Liberal Arts. Course redesign thus has the potential for affecting most students who attend IUPUI. Approximately 2,000 students enroll in Sociology. In fall, 1998, IUPUI offered 13 sections, two with 200 students and 11 with 50 students. Each section met twice a week. The course is taught by faculty in traditional lecture format with assistance from TAs for large sections.

The most significant academic problem in the current course is the 38% rate of D's, F's and withdrawals. The traditional large lecture and testing format also does not offer students the opportunity to learn collaboratively from one another or interactively from tests. Another significant problem is the lack of coordination among sections. There is no pooling of resource material, no interactive testing, and no standard expectation for collaborative learning. The goal of the redesign is to use technology to increase student learning; lower the number of D's, F's and withdrawals; and decrease the costs of instruction for students, faculty, and IUPUI in general.

The course redesign involves treating multiple sections as one course. Sociology content will become more consistent across sections as course material and tests move online. A standard research module will be developed around a student survey, providing the opportunity for students to work independently and collaboratively. A quiz bank and at least one common examination will be developed so students can do all testing online, outside of class. Class discussion space will be available online. In addition, some sections of Introduction to Sociology will be linked with Elementary Composition I in order to strengthen students' understanding and skill in writing about sociology. Linking these two courses will provide a more substantive topical component for writers in Elementary Composition I and better writing instruction in Introduction to Sociology.

Quality will be enhanced through increasing student engagement with the material. The student social survey relates course concepts to studentsÍ own experiences and attitudes. Computerized, interactive testing will provide individualized feedback and help. Students will be able to work collaboratively as well and coordinate content and skill learning in the various writing tasks regarding data analysis. Traditional and non-traditional students will be more integrated online. Computer-based resources will improve student success rates by increasing active student learning.

The impact of the course redesign on student learning will be assessed by comparing the rate of D's, F's and withdrawals of traditional and redesigned sections. Students will be surveyed about implementation issues as well as knowledge of sociological concepts. Finally, to support direct comparisons of knowledge and skill gains, students will be administered a common final exam delivered through technology through an item-bank on line which will also allow substantial item-level disaggregation so that particular areas of strength and weakness can be detected.

Redesign will produce a 20% cost-per-student reduction plus additional savings that result from an improved student success rate.

 

 

Program in Course Redesign Quick Links:

Program In Course Redesign Main Page...

Lessons Learned:
Round 1...
Round II...
Round III...

Savings:
Round I...
Round II...
Round III...