Hawaii Course Redesign Project

 

 

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Funded Projects

Windward Community College

 

Course Title: Introductory Psychology

Contact: Michael Tom (mtom@hawaii.edu)

 

Windward CC (WCC) is redesigning in Introductory Psychology, which enrolls 25 percent of its students and is typically WCC's third highest enrolled course, enrolling 442 students annually in seven sections during the fall semester and six sections during the spring semester. The average drop, failure, and withdrawal (DFW) rate has been 20%. Introductory Psychology is generally one the first college courses taken by students, and WCC believes that students experiences in the course can significantly impact their subsequent academic success by shaping their attitudes toward learning, their study habits and their technical skills.

 

In the traditional format, Introductory Psychology has been taught by three instructors who use different textbooks, different assignments, different exams, and different teaching methods. Faculty productivity is lower than it could be due to the duplication of effort among the three instructors, the repetition of lectures in numerous sections, and the minimal use of labor-saving course management tools. Lack of consistency across sections results in significant variation in learning outcomes depending on which one a student takes, and instructors of higher-level psychology courses find that students’ retention of content from the introductory course is generally low.

 

The primary goal of the WCC redesign is to improve learning outcomes by actively engaging students with course content in a variety of in-class and out-of-class activities, by providing students with frequent feedback on their mastery of course content, and by making individualized assistance readily available to students. Faculty will also prompt students to take responsibility for their own learning, to adopt effective study habits, and to develop computer and information literacy (CIL) skills that will be useful to them throughout their academic pursuits. Faculty expect an increase in student mastery and retention of course content, a lower DFW rate, and an improvement in students’ technology skills and attitudes toward learning.

 

Introductory Psychology will be redesigned using the Replacement Model, reducing lectures from two to one each week. The textbook will be supplemented with interactive online materials including repeatable low-stakes quizzes. These materials will be the primary mechanism for the presentation of course content, replacing most of the class time previously devoted to passive lectures. Instructors will lead one 75-minute discussion session each week to address learning problems identified through the low-stakes quizzes and to engage students in collaborative problem-solving and reflective applications of course content. In-class quizzes and polls will be conducted using a Classroom Response System to actively involve all students. The other 75-minute class period will be devoted to an unstructured study lab. Students averaging less than a B in the course will be required to attend the study lab, where they may study course materials independently, work in groups, or consult one-on-one with instructors.

 

WCC will pilot the Introductory Psychology redesign in fall 2005. Two instructors will each teach one traditional section and one redesigned section, and the learning outcomes in these parallel sections will be compared. Among the measures taken and compared will be the distribution of grades on common course exams, student demographics, pre- and post-surveys of CIL skills and attitudes toward learning, and DFW rates. Retention of Introductory Psychology subject matter will be measured by a pre-test conducted at the start of higher-level psychology courses.

 

WCC’s redesign plan will achieve cost savings by offering fewer sections to serve the same number of students annually. Instructors will gain time to serve additional students by significantly reducing the time spent developing and presenting lectures, and proctoring and hand-grading tests. Introductory Psychology class sizes will be increased from 35 seats in traditional sections to 55 seats in redesigned sections. The 13 traditional sections currently offered will be reduced to five traditional sections and five redesigned sections for a 23 percent reduction in course costs and an annual savings of $14,220.

 



University of Hawaii at Manoa

 

Course Title: Tools for the Information Age

Contacts: David Nickles (nickles@hawaii.edu) and Michael-Brian Ogawa (goawam@hawaii.edu)

 

The Department of Information and Computer Sciences at UH at Manoa plans to redesign Tools for the Information Age, a required course for many majors that provides students the opportunity to learn critical spreadsheet, word processing, presentation, web usage and authoring, and graphics manipulation skills through the study of industry standard applications. Approximately 600 students enroll in this course each term. The traditional course has been offered in two lecture (~300 students) and 20 lab (~30 students) sections per term, taught by one full-time faculty instructor, one course coordinator, and 12 teaching assistants. The course has already been through one major restructuring during the past four years to reduce costs.

 

The course suffers from several problems typical of multiple-section courses: a) course drift and inconsistent learning experiences for students, b) a one-size-fits-all approach, c) course material that needs constant updating, and d) an inability to scale beyond current infrastructure.

 

UH at Manoa will use the Replacement Model in its redesign. Half of the in-class laboratory learning activities will be replaced with interactive tutorials. The course will be enhanced by lecture podcasts, audio files that are automatically available for download to pocket memory drives. A course coordinator will direct the course team, which includes the instructor and undergraduate lab assistants. The instructor will offer course content through a combination of optional live lectures and required podcast media- and resource-enhanced presentations. The administration and scoring of quizzes and exams will be shifted to WebCT. Practical assignments will also be administered by WebCT and graded by undergraduate assistants trained for the task. The course coordinator will keep the entire team working in concert.

 

This iPod-based, technology-enhanced redesign will allow the department to improve the quality of the course. First, high quality media-enriched presentations used in all sections will eliminate course drift and inconsistent learning experiences for students. Second, the passive lecture environment will be replaced by media-enriched presentations (delivered via iPods and the Web) that require active student engagement and increase students' opportunity to progress at their own pace. Third, students will interact directly with iPod- and Web-based content, freeing the instructor and teaching assistants to help students when they need it.

 

The impact of the redesign on student learning will be assessed through a variety of means. UH at Manoa will compare grades from students who were enrolled in this course in the previous year (2004-05) and scores that were achieved on the final examinations since the course grading scale and exams will be comparable. The team will also create pre- and post-tests for each learning module to measure how much students learn over the course of the semester. To assess implementation, the faculty and teaching assistants will keep journals and write brief end-of-term reports on the experience. These journals and reports will become part of a Web site used to disseminate information about how to transform a traditional multiple-section course into a single-section, technology-enhanced one.

 

Cost savings will be produced by 1) by doubling the number of students with only a small increase in staff 2) significantly reducing faculty time in the classroom by delivering lectures via the media player, 3) employing undergraduate assistants for active student lab assistance and 4) shifting time-intensive grading of assignments to WebCT. The department estimates a reduction in the cost-per-student from $125 to $94, a 25 percent savings, while doubling the number of students from 1024 to 2048. The cash savings will be used for similar academic enhancements in other redesign projects as well as for hardware and software upgrades.

 



University of Hawaii System

 

Course Title: Ethnobotany

Contact: Will McClatchey (mcclatch@hawaii.edu)

 

Introductory Ethnobotany is currently taught at several UH campuses and is taken by a wide range of students. Currently enrollment in the course is limited because of faculty time constraints and, in some cases, classroom size. About 300 students take the course each fall and another 100 students take the course each spring and summer. While instructors think that the course is best taught using hands-on learning and face-to-face interactions with students, most of their time is spent delivering lectures to cover course material with low interaction. In some cases, this is due to the large size of the class.

 

The primary goal in the redesign is how to serve more students and spend more quality time with each student without increasing the workload of the instructors. Secondary goals include 1) standardizing key course content across the campuses and instructors to improve consistency and quality, 2) improving the curriculum resources available to each instructor, and 3) increasing the number of sections offered to allow more students to take the course.

 

Using the Supplemental Model, five UH institutions will collaborate in the redesign: The University of Hawaii at Manoa, Kapiolani Community College, Leeward Community College, Maui Community College and Windward Community College. Lectures and other non-interactive presentations will be converted to videos delivered via the Internet. Exams will also be given via the Internet. These changes will allow class time to be used more creatively, depending on the circumstances of the campus. Some instructors will maintain the same number and size of sections but utilize the face-to-face time for more interactive lessons. Other instructors will divide large lecture sections into three small groups that will meet once a week during the times that previously were used for lectures. Overall course preparation and delivery will be shared among the five campuses. These changes will not only increase instructor efficiency but also raise the overall quality of the course by drawing on the diverse set of skills and knowledge of the combined faculty. The multi-campus offering of the course will increase articulation among campuses due to the shared use of a common core of content.

 

The impact of the redesign will be assessed primarily by using comparative exam questions that have been used in the last two to three years. Since students will be provided with the same content but in a new format, the same exam questions can be used to compare learning in the redesigned format with that of the traditional format. Because instructors will not have to spend time providing redundant lectures, they will be more able to interact with students, reinforcing the lessons through these interactions. The UH faculty expect to see improvements in exam scores as well as in the quality of essay content that are part of exams.

 

The redesign is expected to achieve cost savings by increasing the number of students in most of the courses and reducing the time commitment needed by instructors. The cost-per-student as a weighted average for all five institutions is expected to drop from $128 in the traditional course to $65 in the redesign.