PSYC 1001 Redesign

Last Updated: 04/03/2017


Our goal was to improve the student learning experience in PSYC 1001 and positively affect student retention. We started with a discovery phase to better understand the overall experience of instructors and students and leveraged the data to generate recommendations for the development and deployment of a redesigned PSYC 1001 experience

PSYC 1001 Classroom


How might we use data and effective learning experience design to redesign the PSYC 1001 course to increase student retention rates and improve the overall experience of instructors and students in the course?

Alignment with Strategic Goals of the University

The project contributes to the student success efforts of the university by improving student learning experience and uncovering possible factors that influence student persistence (Chancellor’s strategic objective and OIT Strategic Objective 1).

Through this project, we further evidence our commitment to innovation in IT services across campus by piloting new technologies and approaches to teaching that can be replicated in other large courses. We also strengthen collaborative relationships between OIT, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience (OIT mission).


  • Data Gallery: The instructional team and key stakeholders were invited to explore multiple sources of data, identify interesting findings, and formulate insights with the ATDT. The insights were used to generate ideas for potential changes to the course.
  • Piloting of and Backchanneling: Some of the instructional team incorporated a backchannel tool into their teaching to enable students to ask questions or share comments during lectures. This gave students an option to participate more actively in the course. Students were also given an opportunity to provide feedback about their experience with and backchanneling.
  • Summary of Findings and Recommendations: The summary of findings discussed themes and key insights that emerged from the data collected in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 (surveys, interviews, focus groups) and institutional data collected over the last several years. Recommendations included possibilities for Fall 2016 and Spring 2017.


Significant changes in roles and responsibilities within the PSYC Department and project team resulted in a shift in priorities. While the PSYC 1001 Redesign was not able to be completed as planned, the project provided insights into students’ motivations and expectations, the use of as a backchanneling tool, and improving ATDT processes, which have already informed other projects. The PSYC Department and the ATDT will continue to collaborate and remain interested in future work together.


Viktoriya Oliynyk, Learning Experience Designer, ATDT (lead)
Sandra Sawaya, Academic Design Strategy Manager, ATDT
Mark Gammon, Learning Development & Design Manager, ATDT
Doris Cheung, Learning Experience Designer, ATDT


Irene Blair, Professor, Associate Chair, and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Robert L. Spencer, Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience
PSYC 1001 Teaching Team
Joseph Berta, Senior Instructor, Psychology and Neuroscience
Shaw Ketels, Research Associate and Lecturer, Psychology and Neuroscience
Randy O’Reilly, Professor, Psychology and Neuroscience
Diane Sasnett-Martichuski, Senior Instructor, Psychology and Neuroscience
Jennifer M. Stratford, Instructor, Psychology and Neuroscience