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APSU a leader in course redesign

Through mathematics, Austin Peay State University is transforming the way undergraduate students learn.

Its not by precise calculation that introductory-level courses in math, biology, chemistry, public speaking and health and human performance are being modified to help underprepared students achieve at the college level. Rather, its by course redesign.
Through mathematics, Austin Peay State University is transforming the way undergraduate students learn.

It's not by precise calculation that introductory-level courses in math, biology, chemistry, public speaking and health and human performance are being modified to help underprepared students achieve at the college level. Rather, it's by course redesign.

“It's all about reimagining how you might go about teaching core, introduction classes in ways the students will learn more effectively,” said Dr. Tristan Denley, provost and vice president of academic and student affairs at APSU.

APSU's redesign of MATH 1010 has proven successful. The success rate of underprepared students in that course increased from 33 percent to 71 percent. In a statistics course, the rate improved from 23 percent to 54 percent.

In addition, APSU's approach has caught the attention of the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT). On Friday, Oct. 16, APSU — with two Tennessee Board of Regents community colleges — will help present a developmental math workshop for NCAT in Nashville stressing ways to help underprepared students.

“But we're not stopping there,” said Denley, who is one of 16 NCAT redesign scholars helping universities and community colleges across the nation improve quality of instruction. In fact, the redesign of MATH 1010 has become the catalyst in redesigning other classes on campus.

With the aid of Title III funding, APSU has launched course redesigns in biology, chemistry, public speaking and health and human performance. In five Web sections of HHP 1250, part of the health and human performance department, one change that has seen the greatest success is assigning a graduate assistant as an on-campus liaison for the 136 students enrolled in the online sections.

“Additionally, the grad assistant is helping with some of the grading, which allows the instructor more time to communicate with students in need,” said Dr. Marcy Maurer, interim chair and professor of health and human performance.”

The other redesigned introductory courses — chemistry, biology and public speaking — use a more project-based approach to solve open-ended problems, limit the number of lectures so that students can benefit from active-learning techniques and rearrange material for presentation in various class sizes.

“All that we're doing in course redesign is a testament to how serious we take undergraduate education at Austin Peay,” Denley said. -- Melony Shemberger