Professor Austen Clark
Department of Philosophy U-54
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269-2054
Email : austen<dot>clark <at> uconn<dot>edu
(Spelled out to discourage machine harvesting.)
In January 2000 I received a grant from the Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Connecticut to convert a large lecture format course in introductory logic to a "Keller plan" or "self paced" course. The key part of the work done under the grant was to develop a relational database system for managing test items, to ease the task of creating the three dozen new tests needed every semester. Code for that database is available below, along with supporting documents. But first here are some notes on what the project was about.
Some excerpts from the grant proposal.
Resource requirements for a self paced course in logic.
The current undergraduate syllabus.
The course content as revealed in study guides.
Goals of the course for the graduate assistants.
Preliminary evaluation of results.
Transcript of student comments.
We made the decision to develop the database system in Microsoft Access. It has the virtue of being widely available. (It is included in "Office Professional". The code below will work in versions from Office 97 onwards.) Once test items are selected, the application dumps results directly into Microsoft Word, which is also widely available. The test output requires some fine-tuning in a word processor.
A small sample of test items is included, but we are not distributing any of the test items currently used in the course itself.
Selfpace.mdb is copyright (c) Austen Clark, 2001. The program is licensed and distributed under the "copyleft" provisions of the GNU General Public License. Before downloading any code, please read the license. A full discussion of its terms can be found at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft.
What exactly the software will (and will not) do.
Download the software (selfpace.mdb, 2,824 k)
Read some notes on getting started.
User manual for the database application; user manual for the data loader; design specs for tables & forms; known problems; sample user scripts; and other useful documentation.
Download the documents (selfdoc.zip: 138k; expands to 10 files, 446k)
Many people have contributed to the development of this course over the years. Here is a partial list of those who deserve thanks:
Virgil Whitmyer, Greg Gale, Keya Maitra, and Jim Phelps, who made notable contributions to the course design and development while they where graduate students in the Department of Philosophy.
A large cohort of graduate teaching assistants from the pre-self-paced days, including: Dan Blair, Randall Cream, Daniel Doerr, Paula Droege, Greg Gale, Bonnie Kipperman, Yanfeng Lu, Keya Maitra, Chris Panza, Jim Phelps, Adam Potthast, Gordon Stevenson, Brett Vengroff, and Virgil Whitmyer.
The Institute for Teaching and Learning of the University of Connecticut, for funding the grant in January 2000.
Crawford Elder, Head of the Department of Philosophy, and Ross MacKinnon, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, for allowing the course to be taught self-paced.
Alaa Amin (Alaa Eldeen Sayed Ahmed Mohamed) and Abdulrahman Alhamdan, the programmers of the project, from January 2000 to March 2001.
Then Assistant Professor J.C. Beall, who taught the course as a self-paced course in his very first semester at UConn, and who developed its WebCT site. He and I plan to alternate teaching the course going forward.
Finally, the authors of many new items and the graders of all the tests. Graduate students in the Department of Philosophy who have served as teaching assistants since the conversion to self-paced:
Spring 2000: Justin Fisher, Sam Hughes, Jim Phelps, Karl Stocker, and Virgil Whitmyer
Spring 01: Justin Fisher, Andy Magnusson, Chris Panza, Karl Stocker, and Weimin Sun
Fall 01: Sandy Boucher, Donovan Cox, Sean Doherty, and Patrick Fleming
Spring 02: Sandy Boucher, Chris Crull, Patrick Fleming, and Charity Helton
Fall 02: Sandy Boucher, Richard Brown, Donovan Cox, Bo Ram Lee
Fall 03: Kevin Boyle, David Lambie, Dalia Terhesiu, John Vu, Qiong Wang