UNT Research, Volume 18, 2009 Page: 21
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W W W . u n t ed u ntre sear c h
Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment and Redesign.
Focusing on active learning, the course uses historical role playing
simulations, like the one in the "Texas Troubles" module, to bring
the subject to life. The students prepare for their role play outside
of class using a customized web module and then meet one day
a week with a small-group facilitator to perform the simulation.
They also complete weekly online lessons.
"The point is not to present the material once and then test to
see what they've remembered," McMichael says. "Instead, we want
the students to do what they need to do in order to learn, so they
come to class prepared to discuss and analyze and make connections."
The success of the course led to UNT expanding its empha-
sis on redesigning courses to incorporate more active learning
methods. Versions of the history course now are being taught at
Texas A&M at Commerce, Texas A&M International, West Texas
A&M, North Central Texas College and Weatherford College.
The history course is not the only success that has emerged
from the N-Gen project. Denise Baxter and Kelly Donahue-
Wallace revamped their "Art History Survey II" course, abandon-
ing the tradition of studying a litany of artwork from the I4th
century to the present. Instead, they adopted eight two-week units
that each focus on a representative piece of art, which allows stu-
dents to fully explore a particular movement.
Donahue-Wallace, author of Teaching Art History With New
Technologies: Reflections and Case Studies, and Baxter also incorporated
local art and interactive trips into the community to apply art
history concepts. For instance, in the course's web-based unit
about 17th century art and architecture, the students take a virtual
walking tour of the palace and grounds of Versailles, illustrating
how Louis XIV used the architecture of the palace and the design
of the gardens to communicate themes of power and absolutism.
The students are then asked to visit a local university and design a
similar walking tour that explains how it uses art and architecture
to effectively communicate the themes of education and demo-
Sections of "Fundamentals of Algebra" and "College Algebra"
also were redesigned to be more active. Neal Brand, Marc Grether
and Mary Ann Teel applied a variation of a model that has been
used successfully at other universities. It requires that students
spend at least three hours a week completing problem sets in a
computer lab, where they have access to immediate tutor assistance.
In keeping with the N-Gen course redesign approach, the
team added an experiential learning component in which students
apply what they are learning to real-life math problems. The model
was piloted at UNT during the fall 2008 semester.
Brand says the pass rate for these traditional math courses,
both at UNT and nationally, is typically between 40 percent and
60 percent, but institutions with the new model have seen signifi-
"The percentage of students receiving A's, B's and C's in the
two sections of Math 1100 that used the emporium model was
above 60 percent, which was higher than the average for all sec-
tions of 1100," Brand says. "We will be tweaking the courses this
spring to make them even better, and we are confident that we will
achieve a 70 percent pass rate for the courses by fall 2011."
The newest faculty members to join the UNT N-Gen effort
are in the process of redesigning seven additional courses this aca-
demic year, assisted by the faculty members who have completed
the rigorous redesign process in prior years.
McMichael says about 75 percent of students in N-Gen
classes report that they prefer their active learning style courses to
traditional lecture-style courses. Faculty use a variety of assessment
tools to determine the success of their courses, including pre-test-
ing and post-testing student attitudes toward specific courses and
subjects, and analyzing and comparing the number of students who
receive low grades and the number who withdraw.
Some faculty members go farther, completing their own
studies, publishing results and presenting findings. For instance,
Scott Warren, assistant professor in the Department of Learning
Technologies, has done extensive research on the success of his
redesigned computer education class, and Turner and McMichael
both have books in progress designed to help other universities
replicate the N-Gen project.
"Our current educational system is not preparing students
for what lies ahead," McMichael says. "The N-Gen Course
Redesign and similar programs hold the promise of transforming
today's college classrooms so that our students are prepared for
the 21st century." I
"Technology gave us tools that allow us to truly break our classes apart and rebuild
them in a way that lets students experience intense, intimate instruction and learning."
- I'HliLIP TURNER
UNT RESEARCH SPRING 200) " 21
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University of North Texas. UNT Research, Volume 18, 2009, periodical, 2009; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc115032/m1/21/: accessed April 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.