MU Courses Receive New Look
In an on-going effort to ensure pedagogy on the MU campus remains at a high-quality; six courses at MU are taking part in course redesign projects with an aim of creating new student learning outcomes.
One avenue to accomplish that is to enhance the effective use of technology in the classroom. Instructors are working with teams from their colleges and departments and with Educational Technologies at Missouri (ET@MO) to incorporate new teaching methods and technologies into the framework of their classes.
A variety of options, from creating an interactive electronic textbook to developing online modules to supplement in-class activities, are being put into place in the redesigning processes.
“I have taught Stat 1200 for the past 14 years and the course works well as is,” says Larry Ries, whose Statistics 1200 class is going through redesign process. “However, as faculty members, we must constantly reassess and reinvent the things we do. This project is an exciting opportunity to make a good course even better.”
The new-look Statistics 1200 will replace one of the twice-weekly lectures with recorded material on Tegrity, while the remaining lecture will be more interactive and engaging to the students. The discussion classes will be replaced with an emporium-type meeting where students will receive help and be able to take in the course material at their own pace.
Through a redesign of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) 2400, student will attend one lecture per week and use online activities to complement the lecture. Journalism 2150 will replace one of two weekly lab sessions with an online module that will include basic concepts and theories, mini-case studies, self-evaluation assessments and online discussion forums.
“The ideal outcome is to give students more ways to learn and demonstrate that the changes are effective,” says Margaret Gunderson of ET@MO. “We have great faculty and great courses in place, but it is important to always look for ways to get even better. Technology is one tool that can aid that process and improve the effectiveness of a course for both students and faculty.”
The redesign process began with a statewide initiative through which classes from each of the 13 four-year institutions in Missouri would go through a redesign to integrate technology into courses.
Each institution is redesigning a course under the statewide initiative and will share materials and the basics of the course structure, such as the syllabus and decisions made in the course redesign, with the other institutions across the state.
Biology 1010, which has been identified as MU’s course for the statewide collaboration, is developing a series of online modules that emphasize active learning, engagement with course content and interactions among students.
“We want the students to gain a stronger understanding of the nature and process of science, and we want the students to recognize some of the many ways that the course content is relevant to their everyday lives,” says Sarah Bush, associate teaching professor in biology. “These are two concepts that can be difficult to convey in the traditional format of a high-enrollment course.”
For Nursing 2000, students will be able to view online case simulations that are a synthesis of a portion of the course content and then respond to questions.
“My hope is that students will have increased knowledge of the profession of nursing prior to entering the clinical nursing major,” says Gina Oliver, assistant professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing. “Learning increases when methods are more student-centered and include a higher cognitive level of thinking, which is required in the nursing profession.”
The redesign project focused on large enrollment courses and included a wide-range of courses across campus. MU hopes to see a ripple effect among faculty and create a culture of redesign.
“I think the point is to use the course as a platform to innovate in a way that is good for students, faculty and the university as a whole,” says Jason Aubrey, who is creating an interactive electronic textbook and online videos and worksheets for his Math 1300 class.
The pilot courses for most of the six classes are being conducted this semester. Those courses will be evaluated and any necessary changes will be made over the summer with the full redesign implementation being offered next fall.
“This has been a successful venture,” says Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies. “We’ve more faculty show interest in having a course go through the redesign process. The plan is to select new courses for redesign next year and hopefully this will be a continual objective for years to come.”