Continuous Improvement in Teaching and Learning – The Community College Open Learning Initiative

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Using intelligent tutoring systems, virtual laboratories, simulations, and frequent opportunities for assessment and feedback, The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) builds open learning environments that support continuous improvement in teaching and learning. One of the most powerful features of web-based learning environments is that we can embed assessment into, virtually all, instructional activities. As students interact with OLI environments, we collect real-time data of student work. We use this data to create four positive feedback loops: feedback to students feedback to instructors feedback to course designers feedback to learning science researchers In this JumpStart Session, we demonstrate how OLI uses the web to deliver online instruction that instantiates course designs based on research and how the learning environments, in turn, support ongoing research. We will discuss the Community College Open Learning Initiative (CC-OLI) and how faculty and colleges across the country can participate in CC-OLI and the connection between CC-OLI and Washington States Open Course Library project.


  • 1. Continuous Improvement in Teaching and Learning:Candace Thille, Director OLI


  • Story Problem
  • As a waiter, Ted gets $6 per hour.One night he made $66 in tips and earned a total of $81.90.How many hours did Ted work?
  • Word Problem
  • Starting with some number, if I multiply it by 6 and then add 66, I get 81.90.What number did I start with?
  • Equation
  • x * 6 + 66 = 81.90

3. Algebra Student Results: Story Problems are Easier! 4. The Experts Blind Spot 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100Elementary Teachers Middle School Teachers High SchoolTeachers % Making Correct Ranking (which problems hardest) Nathan, M.J. & Koedinger, K.R. (2000).Teachers and researchers beliefs of early algebra development.Journal of Mathematics Education Research, 31(2), 168-190 Expert intuitions about student difficulties are often wrong, systematically biased 5. OLI Goals

  • Produce exemplars of scientifically based online courses and course materials thatenact instructionand support instructors
  • Provide open access to these courses and materials
  • Develop a community of use, research & development that contributes to the evaluation, continuous improvement, and ongoing growth of the courses and materials .

6. Goal directed practice and targeted feedback 7. What is a Cognitive Tutor?

  • A computerized learning environment whose design is based on cognitive principles and whose interaction with students is based on that of a (human) tutori.e., making comments when the student errs, answering questions about what to do next, and maintaining a low profile when the student is performing well.

8. Developing component skills and knowledge, and synthesizing and applying them appropriately 9. Feedback: Changing the Effectiveness of both Learners and Faculty 10. 11. 12. 13. The Killer App feedback loops for continuous improvement 14. Learning Curve Analysis on Stoichiometry Data 15. OLI Review:

    • Apply learning science research and scientific method to course development, implementation and evaluation
    • Environments are developed by teams of content experts (and novices), learning scientists, HCI, software engineers
    • Feedback loops for continuous improvement

What Difference Does This Make? 16. Accelerated Learning Results

  • OLI students completed course in half a semester, meeting half as often during that time
  • OLI students showed significantly greater learning gains (on the national standard CAOS test for statistics knowledge)
  • No significant difference between OLI and traditional students in follow-up measures of knowledge retention given a semester later
  • These results have been replicated with a larger sample

17. Other Class Results

  • Community College accelerated learning study:
      • OLI:33% more content covered
      • OLI: 13% learning gain vs. 2% in traditional face-to-face class
  • Large State University:
      • OLI: 99% completion rate
      • Traditional face-to-face class: 41% completion rate

18. CC-OLI Goals:

  • 25% jump in successful course completion rates in 4 CCOLI gate-keeper courses at participating colleges
  • 40 colleges participating in CCOLI course development, adaptation, evaluation
  • An established model, platform & tools for testing and scaling innovation

19. 20. CC-OLI & The Open Course Library Project

  • Cable Green is on the CC-OLI Board
  • WA CTCs will have faculty (SMEs) on the design teams for the first two courses
  • OLI Environments are OER that can be used by the faculty designing courses for the Open Course Library project.


  • Improvement in Post Secondary Education will require converting teaching from a solo sport to a community based research activity.
  • Herbert Simon[email_address] 22. Pittsburgh Science Of Learning Center (PSLC)

  • Why? Chasmbetween science & practiceIndicators: Ed achievement gaps persist, Low hit rate of randomized control trials (


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