Transforming Introductory College Courses in 4 Steps

NGLC Grant Recipients Extend the Reach of their Student Success Innovations

How do you change high-enrollment, typically low-success introductory college courses so they become high-enrollment, high-success introductory college courses?

NGLC grant recipients University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and the University of Central Florida (UCF) share a similar recipe:

  1. Start with an innovation that has demonstrated success.
  2. Partner with an association to encourage adoption.
  3. Create support materials and make them available with an open license.
  4. Provide training to faculty.

You can learn more about the ingredients for success—as well as the outcomes achieved and their work in progress—through their three-page grantee profiles published this month:

1. Start with an innovation that has demonstrated success.

Developed for Introduction to Psychology courses at UWM, U-Pace is a course model in which students work at their own pace through small, online course segments, progress to new content after demonstrating mastery, and receive amplified assistance—frequent personalized feedback and motivational support—from the course’s instructor.

Consistently, U-Pace students are more likely to successfully complete the course and are more likely to earn an A or B—and these outcomes hold for low-income students as well as their higher income peers.

The Blended Learning Toolkit from UCF is a packaged set of materials to help faculty completely redesign their courses by adopting the blended learning course model that’s been used successfully at UCF since 2002 with higher success rates than face-to-face and online courses along with lower withdrawal rates and higher student course evaluation ratings.

2. Partner with an association to encourage adoption.

UWM worked in partnership with the Society for the Teaching of Psychology to scale the use of U-Pace in introductory psychology courses at other institutions. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities identified 20 member institutions to adopt UCF’s blended learning course model, primarily in introductory math and English/composition.

3. Create support materials and make them available with an open license.

Using funds from NGLC, UWM established a website, instructional manual, sample course syllabus, and an LMS checklist. And UCF added strategies, course design principles, prototype course templates in composition and algebra, directions and suggestions, assessment protocols, and a blog into the Blended Learning Toolkit. These materials to support the adoption of both U-Pace and UCF are openly available through a Creative Commons License, which means that educators can freely use, share and adapt the materials under a few specified terms. So far, UCF has tracked almost 75,000 visitors from 188 countries to the Toolkit’s website. The top countries are displayed on the map below.

4. Provide training to faculty.

UWM created an online training module to guide instructors on implementing a U-Pace course. With additional funding provided by NGLC, UWM and its association partner, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, also conduct a national training workshop at the society’s Best Practices in the Teaching of Psychology conference.

UCF harnessed the scaling power of MOOCs to provide a train-the-trainer workshop using its BlendKit courseware. The BlendKit MOOC has grown 600%, from an initial 200 participants in 2011 to 1,200 faculty in 2012. This year, UCF partnered with EDUCAUSE to offer participants in BlendKit2014 the option to earn a certification for completing the course.

The result?

Read the UWM and UCF profiles to find out:

If you are interested in learning more about other technology-enabled course innovations funded by NGLC that have also demonstrated successful impact on students, read this recent blog post: Three NGLC Innovations Show Evidence of Student Success

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