(Re)Imagining faculty and curriculum development: Faculty perceptions of and experience with course redesign in a community college

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2015-05

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Abstract

This qualitative case study sought to understand faculty perceptions of course redesign at a community college. Course redesign occurs when an entire course is rethought and delivered--often as a drastically different product. While the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) offers detailed case studies of the redesign efforts of two-year and four-year institutions of higher education, sufficient material related to faculty experiences of course redesign is notably absent. As faculty are responsible for designing and delivering the courses, it is important to account for their thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the redesign process. This case study was conducted at a comprehensive community college located in west Texas, where course redesign is an institution-wide initiative to increase student completion rates. Participants in this study included faculty, some of whom were also department chairs, who participated in course redesign efforts at Corby Community College. Faculty represented academic departments including English, Math, History, Reading, Business, and Computer Information Systems. Consequently, this qualitative study sought to understand faculty experiences with the course redesign process and faculty perceptions of course redesign’s impact on students’ course completion. The findings of this study will advance practice of best practices for increasing completion through course redesign, address gaps in the literature pertaining to faculty experiences of course redesign, and help community college administrators understand issues pertaining to faculty development and faculty-driven, curriculum development. The findings of this study suggest that faculty perceived faculty collaboration, institutional support, and student engagement to be significant to the course redesign process. Additionally, faculty perceived curricula changes and the securing of faculty buy-in to be the most challenging aspects of the course redesign process. Although faculty perceptions suggested that students’ course completion rates increased as a result of redesigned courses, faculty suggested that there was insufficient data to determine if course redesign affected student completion in terms of certificate and degree conferral, or transfer to a four-year institution.
This study prompted various implications for higher education practice. Implications include course redesign being an effective means for increasing the course completion rates of students, as redesigned curricula often seeks to actively engage students. An additional implication of this study suggests that curriculum development initiatives, like course redesign, should be faculty-driven. While institutional support is necessary in curriculum development and faculty development initiatives like course redesign, the course redesign process requires opportunities for faculty collaboration.
The study’s implications led to multiple recommendations for higher education practice. One recommendation is that institutions can increase the course completion rates of its students through course redesign. Another recommendation is that redesigned courses must actively engage students. A third recommendation suggests that course redesign, like all curriculum development, should be a faculty-driven process. When implementing course redesign, the final recommendation is that institutions should implement tracking mechanisms in order to follow the completion rates of students who were enrolled in redesigned courses. It is recommended that a study be conducted to explore how institutions are tracking the completion rates of students who took these redesigned courses. It is further recommended that future research include qualitative studies that explore the experiences and perceptions of community college faculty who are engaged in course redesign, as well as community college faculty’s experiences and perceptions as they pertain to an institution’s curriculum development and faculty development initiatives.

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Keywords

Course Redesign, Faculty Collaboration

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