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FGCU Wins Prestigious Pew Grant, Only 10 Awarded Nationwide
8/1/2001

An esteemed grant from the national Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign will help Florida Gulf Coast University to improve the way it delivers one of its required general education courses. At the same time, the grant can potentially save the University $331,000, drop the cost-per-student by 40 percent from $132 to $79, and allow the University to reach more than 800 students at one time.

FGCU will use the prestigious two-year, $200,000 grant, sponsored by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Academic Transformation, to redesign the course “Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts” which it teaches in the traditional classroom and via distance learning. Growing enrollment at FGCU has created a greater demand for the required course. In turn, the demand increased both the number of course sections and faculty members, which resulted in “course drift,” a term used in academia to describe movement away from the originally planned methods and material.

“The course redesign will off-load many of the labor-intensive activities, such as presenting content information and grading exams and papers, to technology,” said Jim Wohlpart, Chair of Humanities and Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences and primary contact for the grant. “The redesigned course will teach all students in one section, with one syllabus and one set of assignments, with an eye towards the individual learning styles of the students. The course, which will be anchored by a common textbook and a course web site, will be taught by a rotating full-time faculty member with a full-time course assistant and group of preceptors. The preceptors will be responsible for monitoring student progress and grading the three longer critical analysis essays.”

The Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign is in the final year of a three-year, $6 million program conducted by the Center for Academic Transformation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The purpose of the grant program is to encourage colleges and universities to rethink their instructional approaches by using technology to achieve cost savings, as well as quality enhancements. This year, the Center awarded grants to 10 institutions, placing FGCU in the same rank as big name schools like Brigham Young University, Iowa State University, Ohio State University and the University of New Mexico.

“Being one of the ‘final few’ reflects extremely favorably on the overall quality of your proposal and the soundness of the redesign you are undertaking,” wrote Carol A. Twigg, Executive Director of the Center for Academic Transformation. “Our case to the academic community depends on achieving both appropriate learning outcomes and cost savings.”

“This grant is significant in a number of ways,” said Brad Bartel, FGCU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “First, it is a grant earned through a long national competitive process. Only 10 universities across the U.S. received the grant. We are in excellent company in receiving this grant, including some of the finest universities in the United States. This clearly demonstrates the respect our faculty and staff development team received in national competition, and points to the overall quality of FGCU.

“Second, the grant is for a significant development of an arts course to be redesigned for electronic learning. Ours is the only arts course receiving funding nationally by the program.”

FGCU is an accredited comprehensive public university created to address the higher educational needs of Southwest Florida and is dedicated to providing a learning-centered environment that offers high quality educational opportunities. Through FGCU’s top-notch educational programs and outstanding faculty members, students have access to an excellent array of learning and information resources.

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