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Hybrid Course Leads to Student Success

Business Students Work Harder, Learn More

June 19, 2014

In an effort to increase the passing rate for a business course needed by all business administration majors, lecturer Randy Hoffman took a nontraditional approach to course redesign.

In addition to meeting two days a week for discussions and small group work, students in Accounting 201B, "Managerial Accounting," now 'attend' lectures and exercises online. The resulting hybrid course — first offered as a pilot in fall 2011 and subsequently expanded to include 95 percent of all students taking the course — went from a pass rate of 57 percent to 80 percent.

That's a very successful model when you are offering 10-12 sections of a class and reaching more than 500 students each semester.

"The basic traditional lecture and today's students just don't mix," said Hoffman, a certified public accountant who has been teaching at Cal State Fullerton since 2008 and has three-college-aged children of his own. "They need more active participation, so we took the lecture out of the classroom and made it a video online with closed captioning.

"With online assignments spread throughout a week, students are now looking at the online material four, sometimes five, times a week, which helps them retain the material," Hoffman explained.

Also online are support materials, lecture notes and transcripts of the lectures. He converts his power points and can tailor the pages to meet the needs of the class.

"What really hit home was when I put the homework online, then I could see how the students are working — and when," Hoffman added.

It gives students the opportunity to learn in their own way, said Hoffman, who says he has seen students do more work than they did in courses before instituting the changes.

When students do meet in the class, there's lots of questions and lots of participation. "I also take attendance every time we meet — and I deduct points if they are not there. Taking attendance has helped a lot. It introduces accountability. Last semester, 75 percent of the students never missed a class."

Hoffman gives credit to Betty Chavis, chair and professor of accounting, in helping to make the hybrid a reality. "It took a lot of courage for her to let me try this. Failure was not an option," he said. "In addition, we are committed to continuous improvement. Each semester we are consciously looking to improve the course and increase pass rate."

The prerequisite to "Managerial Accounting," ACCT 201A "Financial Accounting," implemented a similar format at the same time under the direction of Glen Hatton and has experienced similar results.

"The nontraditional format works — it works well. I don't get to know the students as well (as in the traditional format), but I'm having a bigger impact," said Hoffman. "I'm more confident that when the class is done, they know the subject."

Hoffman's hybrid course has earned recognition from the California State University's Quality Online Learning and Teaching program. It was among eight programs selected from throughout the 23 CSU campus system as exemplary hybrid/online courses.

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