NAU selected for national project to improve undergraduate education with adaptive courseware

Students on computers in classroom

Northern Arizona University is one of seven member institutions of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to be selected as participants in a three-year project that seeks to personalize learning and improve undergraduate education through adoption of high-quality adaptive courseware. APLU’s Personalized Learning Consortium is overseeing the grants, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

NAU will receive $515,000 as part of the Adaptive Courseware Grant program to adopt, implement and scale use of adaptive courseware in high-enrollment, blended learning courses in multiple departments and programs to improve student success.

“As a national leader in efforts to improve the effectiveness of undergraduate education, Northern Arizona University is honored to have been selected for this project,” said NAU President Rita Cheng. “We appreciate the vision of APLU in advancing this crucial work, and we look forward to the insights that will be generated over the next three years.”

APLU intends to use its national network to scale the most promising findings and practices of the project cohort to help its more than 200 public research university members across the country better meet the general education needs of today’s undergraduate students.

“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,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “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.”

APLU’s PLC conducted a competitive application process for public universities interested in the Adaptive Courseware Grant program. A panel comprised of six digital learning experts from across the country then conducted a rigorous review of the universities’ grant proposals. All seven of the participating institutions have demonstrated experience with and capacity to support adaptive courseware use at institution-level scale. They also share a commitment to fundamental transformation of general education, closing attainment gaps among students facing the greatest challenges to access and success, and engaging faculty in teaching and learning redesign across multiple disciplines and departments.

Enrolling more than 200,000 students annually, 35 percent of whom receive Pell grants, the seven institutions have the leadership engagement and organizational capacity for effecting substantial improvement in six-year graduation rates. The seven universities will be supported by APLU and PLC networks, which will capture and promote promising practices for personalizing learning with adaptive courseware.