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Institutional transformation:. The Next Generation Course redesign TM Project. AASCU Conference – Portland, OR July 28, 2011. Today’s Goals. Share why UNT changed its approach to undergraduate instruction Describe how the Next Generation Course Redesign Project works at UNT

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Institutional transformation

Institutional transformation:

The Next Generation

Course redesignTM Project

AASCU Conference – Portland, OR

July 28, 2011

Today s goals
Today’s Goals

  • Share why UNT changed its approach to undergraduate instruction

  • Describe how the Next Generation Course Redesign Project works at UNT

  • Demonstrate parts of NGen courses

  • Discuss barriers to course redesign

  • Challenge you to think about course redesign at your institution

Why redesign large enrollment courses
Why redesign large enrollment courses?

  • Bad News – the “Perfect Storm”

    • High DFWI rates

    • Demographics – higher and more diverse enrollments

    • Financial factors – tuition cannot keep exceeding CPI

    • Accountability

  • Good News

    • Knowledge of learning

    • Emergence of digital tools

What we know about learning
What we know about learning

  • We know that, if we provide an active learning experience that allows students to engage with

    • course content

    • each other, and

    • instructors,

      they can and will think critically and develop cognitively

Goals of the unt n gen project
Goals of the UNT NGen Project

  • Improve student learning outcomes in large enrollment undergraduate courses

  • To have a university-wide impact through the establishment of a Community of Practice

  • Create a redesign process that is sustainableand replicable

Translation goals
(Translation) Goals

  • Students think, work hard, like what they are doing, get good grades that mean something, and graduate

  • Doesn’t cost more and uses less space

  • Faculty enjoy and believe in the process

Next generation redesign is a team process
Next Generation Redesign isa team process

  • Faculty teams redesign 4-6 courses per year

    • Two-year commitment

    • Occurs within an interdisciplinary community of practice

    • Senior Faculty Fellows

  • “Choreographed”

    • Retreats and monthly meetings with faculty and staff

    • Institution-wide forums

    • End-of-pilot and project meetings

Steps in the n gen redesign process
Steps in the NGen redesign process

The building blocks of n gen courses
The “building blocks” of NGen courses

  • NGen courses consist of a “blend” of the following:

    • Large group lectures: 0% – 30% of contact hours

    • Small group experiential learning: 30% – 60% of contact hours

    • Media-rich interactive online environment: 30% - 50% of contact hours

In n gen lectures are best used to
In NGen, lectures are best used to:

  • Create interest and motivation and provide assurance that students can be successful

  • Clarify and expand upon (rather than deliver) content

  • Model the acquisition of knowledge in the field

    • “How does a chemist/sociologist approach a research question?”

  • Present the critical lower level concepts to provide scaffolding for higher level concepts

What is experiential learning
What is experiential learning?

  • The major goal is the acquisition of higher-level abstract concepts and values

  • The instructor plays a vital and purposeful role in the process

  • Experiential learning has two equally important parts

    • Concrete experiences

    • Guided reflection

In n gen experiential learning activities are best used to
In NGen, experiential learning activitiesare best used to:

  • Introduce an emotional component

    • Brain-based learning

  • Analyze, evaluate, and synthesize

  • Present and defend newly-acquired hypotheses

Developing successful experiential learning activities
Developing successfulexperiential learning activities

See handout

Experiential learning activities vary in complexity
Experiential Learning activitiesvary in complexity

  • Level of complexity is driven by:

    • Complexity of GLO’s/sLO’s

    • Flexibility of the classroom

    • Time available

    • Instructional support

  • Examples

    • Simple: Think-Pair-Share

    • Moderate: Parts of a cell beauty pageant

    • Complex: Competitive simulation game

Experiential learning example dam it
Experiential learning example:Dam It!

  • Competitive simulation game that lasts for one month

  • Students play one of three roles dealing with the historic HetchHetchy dam project:

    • Member of U.S. Senate Committee on Public Lands

    • Preservationist – e.g., John Muir

    • Conservationist – e.g., Colonel John Biddle

  • Students reenact the public hearing and committee vote

In n gen online learning activities are best used to
In NGen, online learning activitiesare best used to:

  • Acquire lower-level learning to free up time for in-class experiential learning

  • Chunk content to overcome working memory limits

  • Provide low-stakes assessments such as quizzes for practice and confidence building

Online learning example u s history ii
Online learning example:U.S. History II

  • Providing the foundation for the HetchHetchy “Dam It” simulation game

    • Specific context

    • Background readings

    • Character descriptions (special website)

    • Online course content on the Progressive Era

Unt currently offers 19 n gen courses
UNT currently offers 19 NGen courses

Six new courses will start the redesign process this fall

Faculty perspective
Faculty Perspective

Dr. Brenda McCoy

Change what or who
Change what or who?

  • “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

    • Good teaching evaluations

    • Well-rated on “Pick-a-Prof,” but what does that really mean?

  • It’s getting harder to cover material in all types of courses

    • Students are not reading—slowing lecture and class discussions

    • Plagiarism is becoming common and writing skills are deteriorating

    • Critical thinking skills have been declining


  • Away from blame

    • Trying to imagine what is needed to engage my students

  • Verstehen

    • Trying to understand or imagine how my students must see the classroom and the world

    • Coming to grips with the idea that the “train is leaving the station…”

      • The social changes are profound and I must adapt if I want to be on board

Just google it
Just “Google it”

  • It has never been easier to find “answers”

    • We have become addicted to “Google”

    • Our studentshave never known another way

  • Radical impact on higher education

    • “The professor is an idiot—I just fact-checked him…”

    • “Why do I need to learn that? I can look it up when I need it.”

  • The shape of “Gen Y” and later generations

    • Long on answers, but short on experience

Doodle 4 Google

Matteo Lopez, age 7

2011 National Winner


  • Confucius

    • I hear and I forget.

    • I see and I remember.

    • I do and I understand.

  • Facilitate student discovery

    • How can I structure a situation so that students experience collective action?

    • How can students easily draw random samples of different sizes and explore varying results?

    • How can I get students to espouse a position based on personal investment rather than repeat “sound-bites?”

Soci 1510 then and now
Soci 1510 then…and now

  • Online textbook and testing

  • Online learning objects

  • 8 -10 sections taught each semester

    • Large classes: 100 – 120 students

  • Less “sage on the stage” and more “guide on the side”

N-Gen Redesign

Old System

Sociology 1510
Sociology 1510

  • We use 8 different activities

    • Group size varies from 5 – 50

    • Different degrees of length and complexity

  • Examples:

    • Flash mobs

      • Semester-long project on collective behavior which students plan and execute

    • Survey questions

      • Using clickers, students respond to survey items and evaluate what happens when the wording is slightly altered

    • Philosophy of Individualism

      • Students explore their feelings about “free-riders” and the process of creating policy


  • “Who dares to teach, must never cease to learn.” (John Cotton Dana)

    • Ever-changing subject content

    • New pedagogical approaches—not “shiny-object” syndrome

    • From our students

    • Wiki-world: the brave new world for the academy

There is push back
There is “push-back”

  • “Now can we stop playing games and learn Physics” (Wieman, 2006)

  • “Active learning…is a philosophy and movement that portents trouble for the future of higher education and the professoriate.

    It is longer good enough to teach well; instead, professors must be ready to embrace newly developed methods of ‘engagement,’ even as class enrollments skyrocket. The ‘new professor’ must make large classes as entertaining as video games—or else take students out for coffee and memorize their hobbies.” (Mattson, 2005)

  • “I just can’t take the ‘me’ out of my teaching.” (Frustrated NGen Fellow, 2009)


If I use experiential learning

in my class, how am I going to “cover” all the material?

There are significant challenges
There are significant challenges

  • Once you move beyond the small circle of innovators, there are formidable challenges

    • Lack of rewards

    • Hostility to change

    • Scheduling problems

    • Research vs. teaching demands

    • Entrenched and comfortable pedagogy

    • Lack of resources to produce online materials

Addressing the challenges
Addressing the Challenges

  • Extended Redesign Project

    • Currently 9 years

  • Nurturing Communities of Practice

  • Offer “NGen Lite” opportunity

    • Redesign single unit

    • Summer-long project

    • Retains assessment expectations

Addressing the challenges1
Addressing the Challenges

  • Working to change the recognition/reward system

    • Creation of professional career track for instructors

    • Development of institution-wide teaching assessment

    • Revision of workload documents

Addressing the challenges2
Addressing the Challenges

  • Creation of a Core Academy

    • Separate academic unit under the Dean for Undergraduate Instruction

    • Faculty are full-time instructors in a professional track

    • Faculty report to the Core Academy but are co-hired by the department

    • Department receives SCHs for their courses taught in the Core Academy

    • Serves as a “Beta” site for NGen Courses

Addressing the challenges3
Addressing the Challenges

  • Creating student demand for change

    • Presentation to advisors

    • Promotional items

    • Website

    • Billboards

Enabling transformative course redesign 3 p s
Enabling TransformativeCourse Redesign: 3 P’s


For more information:

Dr. Philip Turner

[email protected]

Dr. Brenda McCoy

[email protected]

Next Generation Course Redesign

Peter Lang Publishing