Faced with a cumulative reduction of 21% in state funding during the recent recession, Georgia College made difficult expenditure reductions and held funds in reserve to replace temporary federal stimulus dollars and ensure that its most critical mission-related operations could continue. Funds held in reserve to replace federal stimulus dollars were thus made available for “one-time” needs and awarded through a competitive “move-the-needle” proposal process. The academic affairs division was awarded funds for curricular innovation projects including a “course redesign” project.
The project consists of pilot programs using models developed by Carol Twigg and associates at the National Center for Academic Transformation and focuses on redesigning instructional approaches by utilizing technology to cut costs and enhance student learning. The pilot focuses on high-demand, introductory-level courses with high drop/withdrawal/failure rates or courses in programs unable to offer enough sections to address student demand. Departments offering courses matching the criteria were encouraged to apply for funding to support faculty development and the implementation of pilot redesign courses. “Move-the-needle” funding was also provided to create technology-rich classroom environments for delivering selected courses in Spanish, Political Science, and Algebra. We sent participating faculty to national workshops and provided them with salary supplements for curriculum design; hired support staff, reconfigured classroom spaces, and purchased computers and software to set up teaching labs.
The objectives of this project are as follows:
- Move the campus forward in its thinking about what constitutes engaged learning;
- Introduce a “high impact” teaching methodology that employs technology
- Introduce a process that redefines faculty “work”
- Improve the drop/withdrawal/failure rates in high demand core curriculum courses;
- Reduce student time to completion, and;
- Accomplish these objectives in a cost effective manner.
- Reduced drop/withdrawal/failure rates
- Expanded access to the class will reduce the number of students who take the course at the local community college
- Reduced number of adjuncts needed to offer the sections needed to meet student demand
- Greater student satisfaction with the course
The ten year research on the redesign models are impressive and include lower drop/withdrawal/and failure rates and higher student satisfaction and achievement. Georgia College’s first redesigned classes are currently being taught (AY 2011). Data related to the outcomes of the pilot can be easily measured:
- reduced drop/withdrawal/failure rates (run report from Banner and compare to trends prior to redesign)
- expanded access to the class will reduce the number of students who take the course at the local community college (Registrar Office can capture the number of requests for “transfer” of credit from local community colleges in the redesigned courses)
- reduced number of adjuncts needed to offer the sections needed to meet student demand (this data is available from the provost office)
- greater student satisfaction with the course (this will require a comparison of information from student evaluation of the course between the redesigned course and the courses that were not redesigned.
Additional information, strategies and institutional experiences with respect to undergraduate course redesign—aimed at simultaneously decreasing instructional costs while boosting student achievement—will likely be a derivative of AASCU’s Red Balloon Project. The Red Balloon Project is a national initiative to re-imagine and redesign undergraduate education for the 21st century. The project is creating a national dialogue, a repository of resources, and a collection of demonstration project to foster innovation among public colleges and universities.
National Center for Academic Transformation:www.thencat.org,Phone: (518) 695-5320, info@theNCAT.org.
Carol A. Twigg,President and CEO, ctwigg@theNCAT.org.