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University of Central Florida

Course Title: American National Government
Contact: Randy Upchurch
                Joel Hartman

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:
The University of Central Florida plans to redesign American National Government, an introductory-level course that 75% of students enroll in to fulfill a Social Foundations requirement in the University’s General Education Program. The course enrolls 2,200 students per year in thirty sections of about 80-100 students each. During the fall and spring semesters, six faculty (instructors and professors) teach through traditional lecture (three hours or two 1.5 hour periods per week) and test formats, supported by three graduate assistants who assist with exams and grading. Some faculty have incorporated Web-based materials as a classroom supplement.

The current course structure produces a moderate success rate (a grade of C or better) of 78% in traditional lecture sections; consequently, over 100 students per year must re-take the course. The large, impersonal lecture format does not accommodate varied student interests and backgrounds. Sections that partially use the Web have a higher success rate of 85%. UCF faces a significant non-academic, problem: a 40% shortage of classroom space due to enrollment growth and a $1.8 million annual rental cost for classroom space. The intended course redesign using technology will provide a higher quality educational opportunity for students while serving them asynchronously in part, thus reducing the need for classroom space.

The redesigned course will substitute Web-based, modular learning for two-thirds of the lecture time. Content modules will use existing, stable Web sites, many of which are administered by state or national governments, supplemented by self-paced, auto-graded quizzes and games with instant feedback, interactive election simulations, and test banks to review and prepare for exams. The use of content modules will allow the multiple sections to be treated as one course. The course will be structured so that students work in small groups of five to eight for discussion and writing projects.

The redesigned course will enhance quality by increasing student interaction with course content, other students, and the instructor. Faculty and teaching assistants’ roles will shift from presentation to facilitation. Students will have more individualized instruction. The modules will motivate students to become active, collaborative learners and encourage critical thinking and analysis through role-plays, discussions, and shared research and writing. Online testing will enable students to use tests in a diagnostic way and thus enhance learning in the course.

The impact of the course redesign on student learning will be assessed by comparing student grades and course drop-out data for traditional and re-designed sections. Pre- and post-tests will measure breadth and retention of knowledge. Surveys will review student learning styles and attitudes and enable us to analyze the academic performance of students with varying learning preferences. Web data will be analyzed to track student-student and student-information interaction.

More efficient use of 100-seat classrooms in the redesigned course configuration and increased student retention means that fewer sections will need to be offered to accommodate the same number of students per year. This amounts to annual savings of $68,466.



Program in Course Redesign Quick Links:

Program In Course Redesign Main Page...

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

Round I...
Round II...
Round III...