University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Amherst: General Education

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Teaching & Advising

 

Instructional Tools for Adding a 4th Credit

Instructional Tools For Adding a 4th Credit


While there are no hard and fast guidelines about how to add a 4th credit to an existing course, there are several ways an instructor might approach a conversion. The GERICO Legislation mentions the “Carnegie Unit” metric of three hours of contact/work per week for each credit. Thus, a four credit course should consist of roughly 12 hours of contact/work per week--4 hours in-class with 8 hours outside of class.

When you are ready to submit your proposal, you will be asked to fill out a form that describes the additional work of the course, including a rationale for how this work satisfies the additional credit. Successful 4 credit conversions have an observable addition of student work in the syllabus that encourages a deeper engagement with course content.

Our research into 3 to 4 credit conversions indicates that instructors often include 2-5 additional assignments or activities, with the most common types as follows:

  1. online homework/exercises/activities
  2. additional readings
  3. additional writing assignments—both formal and informal
  4. out-of-class event attendance/participation (relevant lectures, films, or campus events)
  5. secondary research assignments (e.g., use of library database, manuscript analysis)
  6. exams
  7. out-of-class group work
  8. oral presentations  

 

Again, these guidelines are flexible and additional course content will vary according to discipline and instructor.

Below are a number of ideas and instructional tools, based on Gen Ed learning objectives, to help with this process:

Information Literacy
Technological Literacy
Oral Communication
Application to Real World Problems & Contexts
Collaborative Learning
Consequences of Actions

Fundamental Questions, Ideas, and Methods of Analysis in the Discipline
Communication in Writing

 

Information Literacy For More Information

The UMass Amherst Librarians are prepared to help faculty support the 4-credit General Education proposal. The Libraries Information Literacy Program provides students with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively identify, find, evaluate and use information ethically and legally to support academic excellence and lifelong learning. Librarians collaborate with instructional faculty to develop and incorporate information literacy skills across the curriculum. At the general education course level, this includes the creation of online learning modules, course guides, and other tools.

The Library also offers a series of video tips for students that focus on how to conduct research.

Libraries Instruction web page

E-mail Madeleine Charney (Research Services Librarian)

 

Information Literacy Ideas

OIT Academic Computing has generated a number of ideas for how to use SPARK and other online tools to build assignments where students can develop their information literacy skills.

Academic Computing

There are particular challenges for instructors of very large classes (400+). Dr. Judy Goodenough, Biology, shares her ideas for using SPARK to address information literacy.

Judy Goodenough's Powerpoint

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Technological Literacy For More Information

Online Tutorial: Atomic Learning

Atomic Learning provides web-based software training for more than 100 applications students and educators use every day. Atomic Learning provides thousands of short, easy-to-understand tutorial movies and resources that can be used as a valuable curriculum supplement.

Atomic Learning

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Oral Communication For More Information

Recorded Audio and Video Projects

As hardware and software for recording and editing audio and video becomes increasingly common, it has become easier for anyone to produce short audio or video projects. Students can use these tools to capture their own spoken words and share them with others. These kinds of assignments require access to recording hardware, training, and a means for collection and evaluation.

Academic Computing

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Application to Real World Problems & Contexts For More Information

Opportunities for Community Service Learning

The CSL office is available to meet with interested faculty members to provide materials and ongoing support for the integration of service learning into their courses. Information is available to assist faculty in: establishing meaningful community partnerships, contracting with students regarding expectations and learning objectives, helping students to think/write reflectively about their experience as it relates to life, society and course content, Additional resources include: sample syllabi, readings and other materials on service learning pedagogy.

Community Service Learning Office (1039 W.E.B. DuBois)

E-mail CSL Office

Real World Application Learning Modules

Instructors design instruction modules that focus on helping students apply Gen Ed skills and content to real world challenges.

CESD also specializes in the development of multimedia learning modules and have produced a wide range of these now used in Art History, Classics, Music and Dance, Nutrition, Entomology, Theater and other departments.  CESD staff  provide help with instructional design, storyboarding and implementation of these modules and can also integrate them directly into OWL or SPARK assignments. 

Judy Goodenough's Powerpoint

Academic Computing

Multimedia resources

Enhanced Challenge in Exams, using synthesis and application

Exam questions that require students to synthesize and apply content to case study analyses, real world problems, etc.

Judy Goodenough's Powerpoint

Online Group Discussion/Analysis

Discussion and/or analysis of case study, current event article, etc. using SPARK.

Academic Computing

Judy Goodenough's Powerpoint

Required attendance at lecture, performance, other events

 

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Collaborative Learning For More Information

Collaborative Learning Tasks

The Learning Resource Center is prepared to work with faculty to provide the development, structure and supervision of Peer-Led-Team-Learning; LRC is further prepared to explore other varieties of collaborative learning strategies that could be adapted and coordinated to support additional, outside the classroom, course work.

Learning Resource Center

E-mail Susan Bronstein
(Learning Resource Center)

 

SPARK Discussion Groups

Divide class into smaller SPARK discussion groups (could focus on various questions: i.e., real world applications, consequences of actions).

Tools such as wikis, SPARK, and other Web 2.0 sites provide ways for students to collaborate on projects without additional scheduling & coordination. Tracking features in some of these tools allow instructors to more easily assess the amount of effort each participant puts into the work.

Academic Computing

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Consequences of Actions For More Information
SPARK group discussion or Exam questions, case study analysis, analysis of consequences. Academic Computing

OWL

OnLine Testing

OWL

Multimedia resources

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Fundamental questions, ideas, and methods of analysis in the discipline For More Information

Enhanced Challenge in Exams, using synthesis and application

Exam questions that require students to synthesize and apply content to case study analyses, real world problems, etc.

Judy Goodenough's Powerpoint

Deeper Investigation/Focus

Students pick a topic and go deeper into individual research and analysis.

Judy Goodenough's Powerpoint

Personal Response System (PRS)

Using PRS in the classroom can help require participation in large lectures, enhance in-class group work, and even provide opportunities for doing "live" projects in class.

Personal Response System

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Communication in Writing For More Information

Writing Practice

Use technology to provide increased opportunities for students to practice writing.

Writing to Learn: Technological Approaches

 

NOTE: These examples are drawn from research on instructional methods that enhance student learning, technological and other instructional resources currently accessible at UMass, and the contributions of various members of the UMass Amherst community. It is by no means exhaustive. Please share your ideas with us via e-mail.

 

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