Improving the First-Year Experience: The Impact of Course Redesign


  • Carol A. Twigg


Metropolitan Universities, First Year Students, Course Redesign


Typical failure rates in first-year courses contribute heavily to overall institutional drop-out rates between the first and second year. In partnership with 30 colleges and universities, the Center for Academic Transformation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has demonstrated how information technology can be used to improve the quality of student learning, increase retention, and reduce the costs by redesigning large-enrollment introductory courses. Of the 30 projects, 22 have increased student learning and retention; all 30 have reduced their instructional costs. This article discusses six common characteristics all projects share and illustrates how these characteristics play out among urban and metropolitan universities, using five case studies.