Imagine that you’re a devoted professor trying your best to help students master a subject they struggle with (for some of you, this probably isn’t a stretch). In spite of your best efforts, you watch student after student choose to drop your class, or give up on doing the work and fail it.
You know if you could just manage to bridge the gap between the value you see so clearly in the subject you’re teaching and their inability to grasp it, you could make a difference. But in the meantime, while you try to figure out the secret, your drop/fail/withdrawal rates just keep growing.
Time to Embrace the New Generation of Learning
Ten years ago, the University of North Texas (UNT) decided it was time to try something new. They started the Next Generation Course Redesign Program™ (NextGen) to give professors the power to do something about those DFW rates and more proactively help struggling students.
An important component in their plan was the use of exam analytics. The program acknowledged that, in order to improve, professors must have the means to set goals and consistently track their progress in reaching them. With the help of ExamSoft, the program has achieved considerable success, gaining national recognition and being held up as a model for struggling schools to emulate.
How it Works
Here’s where we admit that the hypothetical at the beginning of our post is actually no hypothetical at all. Dr. Rob Petros, an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at UNT was disappointed year after year to see his DFW rates match (or come close to) the nation’s dismal average for STEM courses.
For years, we’ve all heard the rallying cry from journalists, pundits, and policy experts that we need more STEM students. What professors in STEM subjects clearly see is that many students hear that cry and enroll as STEM majors – only to give up on it when the courses prove too difficult. In 2012, Petros’ courses had a DFW rate of 41%. So he committed to trying something new.
By working with the NextGen program, Petros flipped his courses and implemented an outcomes-based assessment model. While the flipped model increased engagement, the use of exam analytics helped him to understand where his students were struggling and how to help them.
Where in past years, many of his students were responding to difficulties and low grades by giving up entirely, now Petros was able to swoop in and provide them with the focused help they needed to guide them through the rough spots.
How well did it work? You’ll have to check out our case study for that, but you can probably guess that the results were good.
Petros and his students both faced the frustration of wanting to do better and just not knowing how. Assessment data is the key to recognizing the how and achieving the learning outcomes you hope for. Examsoft has helped many institutions and professors reach those goals, we can help you too.