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UM Awarded $515,000 to Improve Student Success through Adaptive Courseware

College of Liberal Arts Photo by Kevin Bain / Ole Miss Communications
College of Liberal Arts Photo by Kevin Bain / Ole Miss Communications

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities has awarded the University of Mississippi a $515,000 grant to improve undergraduate student success through scaled use of adaptive courseware.

UM is one of seven universities selected for the grant, which involves a three-year project to implement personalized learning in high-enrollment, blended courses.

“We have great teachers on our faculty, and this grant will support those wishing to experiment with new technologies,” said Stephen Monroe, assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts, principal investigator and member of the grant writing team. “Adaptive courseware can help our students learn, especially in difficult courses. Faculty volunteers will be testing this potential, and thousands of students stand to benefit in the years to come.”

The grant is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which will oversee the initiative, the findings of which will help more than 200 public universities across the nation improve the general education needs of undergraduates.

“At the University of Mississippi, we are extremely pleased to be a part of the APLU Adaptive Courseware initiative,” Provost Morris Stocks said. “Drs. Stephen Monroe, Bob Cummings and Noel Wilkin have provided excellent leadership in this effort. We are committed to providing the best education possible for our students, and we are excited about the opportunity to develop new and efficient methods by which to deliver that education.”

The six other participants are Northern Arizona University and Portland State, Arizona State, Colorado State, Georgia State and Oregon State universities.

“Public research universities are being asked to educate more students and effectively prepare them for the workforce and society at the same time they continue to face reduced state and local funding,” said Peter McPherson, APLU president.

“The seven public research institutions leading this effort are well-positioned to adopt and scale use of innovative learning technologies that can improve the delivery of public higher education as we know it. We are eager to assist and foster their development of what will certainly be promising approaches to faculty engagement with adaptive courseware and improving learning outcomes for all students.”

The recipients were selected by demonstrating the capacity to support adaptive courseware at an institutional level, as well as sharing a commitment to transforming education, engaging faculty, learning redesigns across multiple disciplines and departments, and closing attainment gaps among students who face challenges to access and success.

“We believe personalizing learning – accelerating the student-learning process by tailoring the instructional environment to address the needs and skills of individual learners – with adaptive courseware can lead to better student learning outcomes within programs and increased degree attainment across higher education,” said Meaghan Duff, APLU’s Personalized Learning Consortium executive director.

“We further believe that faculty and pedagogical experts must play a central role in the adoption and delivery of digital courseware for adaptive technologies to take hold and to truly personalize learning for college and university students. We’re very excited about the potential impact the University of Mississippi will find over the course of the grant that could help reshape the way general education courses are delivered.”

Representatives from Ole Miss will visit Washington, D.C., at the end of this month for a launch meeting, with adaptive courseware evaluation and adoption efforts beginning immediately upon their return.

By Christina Steube and the Ole Miss News Desk

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