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Arizona Board of Regents: Learner-Centered Education Course Redesign Initiative

Arizona State University

Course Title: Organizational Management and Leadership
Contact: Roger Hutt

Project Abstract
Final Report (as of 6/1/09)

Project Abstract

The Polytechnic campus of Arizona State University (ASU-Polytechnic) plans to redesign Organizational Management and Leadership. The course is a critical component of the business core curriculum and a foundation for subsequent upper-level business courses. Offered in the fall and spring semesters, the course is the seventh largest course on campus, enrolling ~270 students annually in six sections of ~45 students each. In its traditional lecture format, the course meets twice a week for seventy minutes. Students' preference for the Polytechnic campus business programs continues to grow at about 20% a year. In the past, most enrollees have been junior-year transfers from the ASU Tempe campus or from one of the nearby community colleges. Relatively few students were admitted as freshman. However, larger freshman classes have been admitted for fall 2007 and are planned for subsequent semesters, thus increasing the demand for the course.

ASU-Polytechnic plans to use the Replacement Model. The current two lectures per week will be replaced by one face-to-face meeting and one online meeting. Students will assess their knowledge and understanding of course content by taking online quizzes. Students will collaborate online by completing small-group exercises focused on chapter concepts and theories, discussing recommended courses of action, and submitting their work via the course Blackboard site. During weekly face-to-face meetings, professors will lead discussions, taking direction from the most recent assignments submitted by the students. These face-to-face sessions will provide a context for what students are discovering during the online sessions and deepen the students' knowledge of the subject matter.

The redesign will enhance course quality by ensuring consistency across sections. Faculty will collaborate to generate a rich collection of cases, exercises, articles and a host of related materials, and they will agree on how and when to use these materials. Students will be actively engaged in the learning process, and their progress will be monitored throughout the course. Graduate teaching assistants will provide individualized assistance for students who fall behind.

Faculty members will identify agreed-upon learning outcomes for the spring 2008 pilot. Outcomes in two redesigned sections will be compared to the outcomes in one traditional parallel section. Data from the traditional section in the spring 2008 pilot will be compared to the data collected from all redesigned sections offered during full implementation in 2008-2009. Assessment data will include comparisons of common final exams, of student work using common rubrics and of course grades using common criteria.

With the introduction of technology, the redesigned course will allow ASU-Polytechnic to increase the number of students served from the current 270 to 360 students. Section size will be increased from ~45 to ~60 students. The cost-per-student will be reduced from $373 to $159, a 57% decrease. Savings are projected to remain in the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness. In addition, space will become available for other campus classes/activities because of the reduction of in-class sessions.

Final Report (as of 6/1/09)

Impact on Students

Improved Learning

Students in the redesigned course performed better than students in the traditional format. Performance was measured and compared using common content items selected from exams. Exam questions were selected from across various levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Some questions tested recall of fact, concepts or definitions; others required students to use reasoning or problem-solving skills. Exam scores in the traditional course averaged 67.4%, whereas in the redesigned course, scores averaged 76%.

Retention

The student success rate (a grade of C or higher) was 90.2% in the redesigned course during full implementation. It was not as high as that experienced in the traditional course where the rate was 94%.

Other Impacts on Students

  • The in-class experience was highly positive with increased interaction and discussion, which engaged the students more than in the traditional course.
  • Students seemed more willing to engage in in-class discussions because they had already discussed the material with fellow students online.
  • There seemed to be more active rather than passive learning as a result of the in-class discussions and exercises.
  • Students mentioned that they enjoyed the flexibility that the hybrid format afforded them.

Impact on Cost Savings

The team planned to increase the number of students served from 270 to 360 students and to increase section size from ~45 to ~60 students, reducing the cost-per-student from $373 to $159, a 57% decrease. The actual cost-per-student was $154, which is a 59% decrease.

Following the pilot semester, the team reviewed elements of the original redesign plan and determined that some adjustments should be made.

1) Most notable was the desire to increase the number of faculty hours devoted to assessing student assignments, both individual and group, thereby keeping the faculty in closer contact with all aspects of the course.

2) Larger classrooms in which the course could be taught became available. Because of this opportunity, section size was increased from 60 (as noted in the original plan) to approximately 90 students, and the number of sections was reduced from six to four. During full implementation, a total of 364 students were enrolled in four sections of the course. This change meant that the team was able to reduce the number of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) per term from three to two and the number of undergraduate teaching assistants (UGAs) per term from three to two.

Now that the course is taught in a new building with larger classrooms, the team believes they will be able to increase enrollment to as high as 250 students per term, because one classroom will hold 150 and a second classroom will hold 100. This means that the annual enrollment can be increased to ~500 (from the current 360) without additional resources.

Lessons Learned

Pedagogical Improvement Techniques

  • Refocused face-to-face weekly class meetings. The nature of the face-to-face class time changed from a lecture format to the professor leading discussions and providing a context for what students discovered through individual and group assignments, thereby deepening students’ knowledge of the subject matter.
  • Individual online assignments. Due dates for these assignments were two days prior to the day the chapter was discussed in class. Because students needed to have a good understanding of the material to complete the assignment, they came to the face-to-face class sessions with background knowledge and were prepared to discuss the topic and ask questions to build upon their knowledge.
  • Group online discussions. Students in groups of three participated in 10 online discussions on a Blackboard discussion board throughout the semester. The discussions pertained to the slides that had been posted for the coming week’s assigned text chapter. Each group contributed to the discussion by asking two questions regarding the slides and by answering the two questions posed by each of the other group members. Two days prior to the class meeting on the chapter, the group was responsible for sending a group report to the professor electronically. The report summarized the group’s decision as to which question and answer best described the discussion they had on the topics. Additionally, students were advised to be prepared to discuss their questions and answers if called upon in the face-to-face class session.
  • Group quizzes. Unannounced group quizzes were administered ten times during the semester. Students discussed the questions and submitted one paper representing the consensus of the group.
  • Online chapter practice quizzes. Students were encouraged to check their understanding of chapter material and concepts by completing the publisher-provided online quizzes. Self-report information from students indicated that these quizzes were helpful and contributed to learning the chapter material.

Cost Savings Techniques

  • Class section consolidation . Reducing the number of class sections from six to four, while increasing the size of each section from 45 (prior to course redesign) to approximately 90 students contributed most to reducing costs.
  • Coordination and management of resources across all sections. The two professors responsible for teaching the course worked together closely to manage and coordinate all aspects of the course, including its content and delivery. This enabled efficient use of GTA and UGA hours. This collaborative relationship also contributed to the efficient allocation of the two professors’ time to teaching and managing the course sections.
  • Publisher-provided learning materials. Publisher-provided learning materials were an essential component of the course redesign. With the selection of an appropriate textbook supported by such materials as detailed slides for each chapter, a variety of end-of-chapter and online learning activities, online quizzes and video clips, the team was able to offer the course without incurring additional costs for materials. Their availability meant that the team did not need to develop new assessment tools (for example, test banks or online quizzes), multimedia including slides, or case studies. Instead, their efforts were focused on selecting from among the available materials, redesigning and delivering the course, monitoring progress and making course enhancements as needed.
  • Blackboard system. The course redesign relied on the Blackboard system. Students in groups of three collaborated online in the discussion board and discussed chapter concepts and theories after they reviewed the slides for the weekly chapter. Continuing their discussions, they identified what they considered to be pertinent questions, answered those questions, and then submitted their group report electronically. Individual student assignments were also submitted directly through the Blackboard system which facilitated the handling of a large volume of documents and was an efficient method for recording and tracking grades of the large class.

Implementation Issues

  • Access to larger classrooms. Larger classrooms, particularly those suitable for allowing students to meet in groups, were a necessary component of the redesign. An equally important consideration was that the classroom be mediated or multimedia-capable to include a lectern with a built-in computer connected to the network and the projector, video and DVD players, and large screen easily viewed from all parts of the room.

Sustainability

The redesign initiative has been a success. Student learning has increased while the cost-per-student in the course has decreased. There is no question that the team is committed to the redesign and that it will be sustained. Other faculty members who might be assigned to teach the course in the future have also expressed their intent to employ the course redesign in their sections. Additionally, the redesign has also become a model for other courses taught by professors on the team as well as by other faculty in the school.

The team believes the redesign will enable them to accommodate even more students without adding new sections as enrollment in the school continues to grow. With the availability of larger and suitable (that is, classrooms suitable for grouping students on occasion) classrooms, the team believes that class size could increase by about 20% with perhaps one GTA and one student-grader being the only modest cost increase.

 

 

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