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Independent Study honored for teaching assistant support

Brigham Young University's Independent Study On-Demand Teaching Assistant Support program received the Innovative For-Credit Programming Award from the Region West University Continuing Education Association.

"Independent Study is always looking to improve the quality of its instruction, the services it offers, and its scalability-allowing the maximum number of students to benefit from quality educational opportunities at the minimum possible price," said Peter Williams, instructional technologist.

"A recent pilot program, initially offered in few high-volume courses such as statistics, history, and philosophy, sought to improve achievement, completion and satisfaction by providing on-demand teaching assistant support in a cost-effective way," he said.

Many online programs have tried to require increased interaction in online forums to improve instruction for struggling students, but such attempts often result in mechanical, low-quality interaction and frustrated students, he said.

"The innovation of the BYU program is in its ability to harness students' intrinsic motivation to seek support while not placing an extra burden on those who do not need it in the given subject. The program also utilizes communication and data-tracking technology to do what technology does best, and teaching assistants to provide the one-on-one content and motivational support the professor would not have time to provide," said Williams.

The award recognizes new and existing programs in degree or professional advancement format that are original in concept and/or approach. Judges looked for innovative qualities, program objectives, clientele served, specific impact on individuals, institutions and the community, problems encountered and solved, educational model, research and/or publications.

Independent Study has been nationally and internationally recognized for providing students with well-designed courses, which give immediate feedback on assignments and provide Student Services support for technical problems.

For more information, contact Peter Williams, (801) 422-9311.

Writer: Peter Williams

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