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Katelyn Brissey May 22, 2013 AEET/EDET 780 Critique1

Reddy, D. M., Fleming, R., Pedrick, L. E., Jirovec, D. L., Pfeiffer, H. M., Ports, K. A., Barnack-Tavlaris , J.L., & Helion, A. M. (2013). U-Pace Instruction: Improving Student Success by Integrating Content Mastery and Amplified Assistance. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 148154. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED540734.pdf
Introduction U-Pace is an academic intervention program that has an overall goal in increasing graduation rates in higher learning environments. It is a mastery program meaning the students can only move on with the material after achieving a complete understanding of the material before it, which according to the researchers is making a 90% or higher on the assessments. It also includes personalized support for the student and it breaks down large topics into small, easier to manage modules. The study says that U-Pace is different because the student doesnt have to ask for help. This is called Amplified Assistance, which means that the instructor spends most of his or her time analyzing student performance and helping based on that knowledge. The study was conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. An Introduction to Psychology class was chosen since it was a general education course. 2,874 students were taught in the classroom through lecture while another 1,734, the UPace group, worked through the interactive online modules. For both groups grades were determined by online multiple-choice assessments.The study found that there was a significant increase in academic success for the U-Pace students. The researchers admit a few limitations. First, the students were not randomly chosen for U-Pace or conventional learning. Second, the study gave an opinion survey to the U-Pace students and not the conventional education group and only gave it to the U-Pace group after the program had ended. There would be nothing to compare those opinions to students in the other group or their perception of learning before the program. The researchers feel that U-Pace succeeded in improving academic performance, sense of achievement, time management skills, sense of control over learning, and student motivation. The researchers would like to see this implemented in college environments. If it were me, I would choose another general education class where students normally have trouble. I would choose english 101 or one of the freshmen math classes. I would conduct a random selection of students who would be involved with U-Pace or conventional education. I would give them all the same pre-test and a multiple question survey on their opinion of education. Then, after the semester, give them a post-test and the same multiple question survey. I think that data would have more to say than the data found here.

Critique The research question is not clearly stated, but from what I can make of it, the original question was, Can U-Pace instead of conventional education help students perform better in colleges and universities? The study incorporated outside research and reviews with ease. The reviews and research presented seemed to support their findings. The writing style was easy to follow, and the language used is appropriate for the target audience. The theory was very explicit, that U-Pace will help students in academic scenarios. As for the study itself, I feel that it does have many limitations and a bias towards U-Pace, which I expected. The first flaw I found with the study is that they tested 5 possible outcomes, but only two of those outcomes could accurately be measured. The five outcomes tested were: 1) student academic success, 2) improvements in the rate of content mastery, 3) perceived control over learning, 4) perceived improvement in time management and study skills, and 5) student motivation. The last three could not be measured without data to compare it to. It seemed like the survey was sort of useless since they didn't give out one to the other group and didn't give one to the U-Pace group at the beginning of the study. I also think that U-Pace could have been compared to other self-paced learning programs. The study did have valid findings in the improvements in rate of content mastery. I do feel that this study applies to my research topic on self-learning, however. It also gives me an indication on how certain people view self-learning intervention programs. Conclusion From my perspective, the study was biased from the beginning. I could tell the researchers wanted U-Pace to do well, so it did. The fact that the groups were not chosen by a random sample further hurt their cause, even though they said there were no differences in learning level between the two groups. 3 out of the 5 outcomes of the study were based on opinion and only the U-Pace group was allowed to give their opinion. The comparison between academic success in a mastery program vs. a conventional education program is fine, but because U-Pace claims it is different from other self-learning mastery programs, I think that there should have been a comparison to a different mastery program as well. As for academic success, if they raise the bar at 90% to continue the program at all, then of course students are going to reach it, especially when teachers come to them to assist rather than the other way around. It's nice that the instructors want you to succeed, but I wonder how representative of real life that is. What is being taught there? In most cases you won't find a boss hunting down an employee who isn't looking for help in the first place. The rate of success improving is significant, however, because it shows the retention is happening at a much faster rate. I think that the U-Pace study has a good start, but the research should go from there and look into the program with more detail with better data collection and comparisons.