Society for the Teaching of Psychology, Division 2 of the American Psychological Association Higher Education Tech Innovation

U-Pace’s self-paced mastery learning, personalized student feedback, and motivational support position students for academic success.

“Deeper learning and academic success may be critical requisites to increasing baccalaureate degree attainment among young, low-income, and disadvantaged students. U-Pace instruction produced deeper learning and academic success regardless of family financial strength.”
—Diane M. Reddy, Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

The Innovation: U-Pace

The U-Pace instructional model helps students gain confidence in their academic abilities by creating a reinforcing academic success cycle (see graphic for the core components and mediating processes that lead to positive student outcomes). Students progress to new course content only after demonstrating subject mastery—that is, by scoring at least 90% on online quizzes. At the same time, instructors give students personalized feedback and motivational support for their course performance every week. This is called “Amplified Assistance”.

Results Achieved: Over time, the high performance standard and the instructor’s critical support empower students to succeed. Evidence indicates that U-Pace not only produces greater academic success overall but also reliably increases learning and reduces the achievement gap for disadvantaged students.

  • Improved course completion rates: During the grant period, U-Pace students were significantly more likely to complete the course successfully than students who took the same course without U-Pace.
  • Long-term subject matter retention:  Six months after course completion, U-Pace students performed significantly better (16% higher than conventionally taught students) on a proctored cumulative exam measuring core concepts.
  • Low-income student subject mastery: In the beginning of the semester, low-income U-Pace students required a greater number of attempts to achieve mastery on quizzes than higher-income U-Pace students. By the end of the semester, this gap closed.
  • Enhanced student confidence: At the end of the course, U-Pace students reported a greater sense of achievement than conventionally taught students and perceived greater instructor support and willingness to help.

Long-term Goal: Increased awareness and use of the U-Pace model leading to improved academic success of college students nationally.

Accolades:

  • U-Pace won several national awards and recognition, including a 2014 WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award.
  • Adoption has expanded to 15 courses in STEM, humanities, and social sciences and to eight universities in seven states.
  • The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences is supporting a study to better understand U-Pace’s increased learning and academic success.
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Project lead Diane Reddy explains U-Pace
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Project lead Diane Reddy describes U-Pace student outcomes
Student perspective on U-Pace
Students discuss their U-Pace experiences.
Student perspective on U-Pace

Partners:

  • University of North Florida
  • University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

The Grant Project:

The Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP), which functions as Division 2 of the American Psychological Association, and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee received an initial grant in April 2011 and a follow-on grant in January 2013 to support the development and scaling activities of U-Pace.

Project leads used NGLC’s initial grant to finance the dissemination of the U-Pace model to other institutions and subject areas, to recruit partner institutions and to create implementation resources, including a central web site, instruction manual, and a training module. The follow-on grant enabled the project team to raise U-Pace’s awareness across higher education through a national training workshop, conference presentations, and article publication.