Professor Diane Reddy has replaced the traditional lecture format with an online version of Psych 101. Students learn at their own pace but also have to obtain mastery, demonstrated by passing a quiz on each unit, before they can move on to the next.
Along the way, students get help from teaching assistants who monitor their online activity, identifying weak spots and providing advice – even if the students don’t seek it.
Initial evidence says it works: In a study of 5,000 students over two years, U-Pace students performed 12% better on the same cumulative test than students who took traditional Psych 101 with the same textbook and course content, even though U-Pace students had lower average grades than those in the conventional course.
The online model, the study found, was particularly successful for disadvantaged or underprepared students – low-income students, racial and ethnic minorities, and those with low grades or ACT scores. And students in general do better in the class, too, earning a higher percentage of As and Bs than students earn in traditional Psych 101.