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ERIC Number: EJ840052
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Apr-30
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1557-5411
Cutting Costs, Improving Learning
Roach, Ronald
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, v26 n6 p9-10 Apr 2009
As a newcomer to the Department of Natural Sciences at University of Maryland-Eastern Shore (UMES) in fall 2007, assistant biochemistry professor Jennifer L. Hearne concluded from teaching "Principles of Chemistry I" that the introductory general education course needed a makeover. In addition to alleviating teaching inefficiencies, Hearne saw the potential "to improve student learning outcomes" with a better organized course. Hearne's move to UMES, a historically Black university, coincided with the University of Maryland system having undertaken a course redesign initiative. The initiative, begun in 2006, had invited professors teaching introductory courses in math, science, social sciences and the humanities to use information technology and other efficiency measures to improve student learning outcomes and to lower academic department costs. Each Maryland campus was charged with "redesigning at least one pilot course during a three-year period starting in 2006." In the spring of 2008, a fully redesigned pilot phase of "Principles of Chemistry I," utilizing an online tutorial and reducing weekly classes from three to two, saw the student pass rate increase from 55 to 66 percent from the previous semester among health and science majors. The tutorials have played a critical role in helping students gain a thorough understanding of their progress and shortcomings in learning the course material. Putting an information technology component, such as the online tutorial, at the core of the course redesign process has made the UMES "Principles of Chemistry I" part of a growing movement in U.S. higher education. Currently, roughly 60 U.S. colleges and universities, as well as four university systems, are collaborating with the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) to redesign introductory courses that increase student learning and cut costs for academic departments. The Saratoga Springs, New York-based organization, launched in 1999, has facilitated information technology applications development to help make cost-savings possible in redesigned courses. Course redesign models urge the use of information technology in large introductory courses. Often, the number of lecture classes is reduced, and they are replaced by laboratory or lecture review classes. The lectures are often reinforced by students having to complete online tutorials in dedicated computer labs where they can interact individually with professors and teaching assistants. These changes have enabled cost reductions for academic departments. From 1999 to 2004, 30 two- and four-year colleges, collaborating with NCAT, reduced the costs on redesigned courses by 37 percent on average. Twenty-five of 30 course redesign projects demonstrated increases in student learning, NCAT has reported.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Georgia; Maryland; Mississippi