|Contact:||Gordon Hodge, (505) 277-3019
Nancy Uscher, (505) 277-2611
Steve Carr, (505) 277-1821
August 28, 2001
UNM RECEIVES $200,000 GRANT FROM THE PEW LEARNING AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM
The University of New Mexico is one of 10 institutions nationally to receive
a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Pew Learning and Technology Program at the
Center for Academic Transformation as part of the Pew Grant Program in Course
The grant will support the redesign of general psychology 105 at UNM using technology to enhance learning and reduce costs.
The lead principal investigator for the grant is Gordon Hodge, associate professor
in Psychology and UNM Presidential Teaching Fellow, who has been teaching in
the department for more than 25 years. Other University officials involved with
the grant include Nancy Uscher, associate provost for Academic Affairs and John
Sobolewski, associate vice president at Computer Information and Resources Technology.
The impetus from the grant was to encourage universities to take a hard
look at how they are teaching their introductory courses, said Hodge.
One goal was to look and see if we are being efficient in terms of providing
instruction to students. The second goal is to find out if we can be more effective
in teaching students the material. The challenge of the redesign effort is to
determine whether we can offer an introductory course to a large number of students
efficiently, but at the same time effectively improve their learning.
One of the major overall goals of the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign
is to engage institutions in rethinking their approaches to integrating information
technology and academic planning. While each project focuses on one course,
the context in which the redesign takes place is, perhaps, more important than
the success of the particular project. The intention is to create a model of
redesign that can be implemented throughout the institution. UNM was selected
following a three-stage application process. The first stage identified those
institutions that were ready to engage in large-scale redesign. The second stage
selected 20 institutions from among a group of 40 that identified specific courses
that are ready for large-scale redesign. The third and final stage selected
10 institutions to receive redesign grants. UNM was selected based on its commitment
to this process.
One of the real successes we had prior to receiving the grant was the
chance to demonstrate a collaborative effort across the University, said
Uscher. Fritz Allen, former interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences,
John Sobolewski, associate vice president at CIRT, and Gordon Hodge of the pyshcology
department, all collaborated and attended workshops as a team, which modeled
a very positive effort by the University to work across sectors for the common
good of the student.
The course redesign will directly address the high failure rate for general
psychology which is currently 30 percent. The drop, withdrawal, failure
rate is even higher at 42 percent. General psychology is the universitys
largest and most popular undergraduate killer course. More than
2,200 students enroll in the nine sections of the course which is currently
taught in the traditional lecture format. High failure rates in core curriculum
courses such as general psychology are known to have a strong negative impact
on UNMs low overall retention and graduate rates.
Because general psychology is a core course, it really has a tremendous
impact on students at University. It is one of the most popular core courses
in the social sciences, said Uscher. It was the perfect course to
redesign for this project. Were paying increasing attention to helping
our students succeed. Were really looking at teaching and learning as
an important component in the Universitys mission.
The course redesign will significantly enhance the learning experience for
students in several ways including: the use of technology, which will improve
overall course performance of the universitys diverse student population;
course content will be consistent across sections; and students will learn to
actively apply principles of scientific and critical thinking in this and subsequent
courses. The course redesign will also produce a substantial cost savings by
reducing the number of faculty, instructors and teaching assistants; reduce
course failure and retake rates; and increase student retention and graduation
rates which affect state funding.
The course redesign will incorporate one 50-minute lecture and one 50-minute
computer lab section per week, supplemented by interactive hybrid Internet/CD-ROM
activities, quizzes and programmed self-instruction offered on a 24/7 schedule;
use computer-based technology to provide students with learner-centered
activities providing immediate feedback to both the student and instructor about
student progress; use computer-based technology to foster greater peer interaction
and work within teams; increase student contact with upper level peer leaders
to facilitate learning; and to develop consistent curricula across all sections
of the course.
It going to help teaching and learning, said Hodge. The Pew
grant recognizes retention as a crucial goal, but beyond that, it recognizes
the commitment that UNM has had toward outstanding teaching. The Pew grant will
help focus our teaching efforts on new ways of enhancing student learning and
Some aspects of the redesign will be implemented in the 2001 fall semester. Next semester, one section will be fully implemented and a comparison of student learning in the redesigned section against student learning in a traditionally taught section will be studied. In the fall 2002, all sections will use the redesign.
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