Assessing Discussion-Intensive (DI) Courses

The Student Learning @ RIT Grant funded a small working group and a faculty retreat to develop and approve rubrics to assess Discussion Intensive (DI) courses more rigorously, determine their value with regard to learning outcomes, and provide data to justify their expansion to other departments and programs.

The working group developed two rubrics to assess individual student participation and faculty perception of overall class dynamics. These were presented to the department for further discussion and refinement, and they were used to assess the courses in fall 2017, spring 2018, and fall 2018.

Additionally, refined department-wide questions were added to SmartEvals to gain a better understanding of student perception of the courses and if they differ from lecture-oriented courses. Evidence indicates that discussions are more productive and program learning outcomes are achieved more consistently as students become more adept at the skills necessary for constructive discussion.

There have been two concrete benefits from this project:

  • Use of the rubrics clarifies the definition and value of Discussion-Intensive courses
  • Face-to-face discussion enhances student learning and enhance communication skills

Research results will be documented and submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.