SOTL: Campus Challenges as a Catalyst for Creative Curriculum Revision
In Spring 2018, we piloted a new lecture/lab/speech lab format for COMM 101 that we hope will provide a better learning experience for Mason students and contribute to greater communication skills growth than our current course model. This presentation will share details about that new course format as well as share assessment results and research findings that evaluated the extent to which the new course format impacted the students’ learning and skills development.
In the past, COMM 101 was offered only as a 3-credit face-to-face course in small sections. However, we are facing classroom shortages during the Robinson Hall rebuilding project, and the classroom shortages combined with increasing size of the student body became a catalyst for us to consider new course formats that will continue to meet the needs of our students and respond to the potential loss of classroom space, and from those discussions, the lecture/lab/speech lab model for COMM 101 was born.
In Spring 2018, we undertook a pilot of a new lecture/lab/speech lab format for COMM 101 that we hope will provide a better learning experience for Mason students and contribute to greater communication skills growth than our current course model. In the proposed course model, students will have the equivalent of a one-credit online “lecture” that will include a brief overview of the course concepts, textbook readings, a series of video presentations (TED talks, model speeches, etc.) that deepen students’ understanding of the concepts, and other activities.. In the labs that will be an equivalent of two credits, students will engage in discussions, activities, interviews, and group work, as well as deliver all of their presentations in a small classroom environment. Third, students will be required to attend the speech lab; in the speech lab (or communication center), students will receive one-on-one communication skills coaching with trained communication expert tutors while working to complete assignments for the class. This new course format allows us to integrate media-rich online content designed and taught by a faculty member with deep content expertise, small group classroom interactions that emphasize skills development and practice, and individualized communication coaching. This unique course design allows us to utilize the best of each instructional format and adds more individualized attention for every student in the class. We piloted 6 sections of this course format in Spring 2018 and collected assessment data to find out how students perform in this model of the course compared to the traditional course format. The purpose of this presentation will be to share our assessment and research findings (funded by a 4-VA Research Grant) as well as share details about the new course format with the entire Mason Community.
Campus challenges can be a catalyst for creative curriculum design, but we must assess whether new course formats improve outcomes for all students.