Director of ZOLE Ted Joyce:
Bringing Baruch into the 22nd Century
Ted Joyce, Professor of Economics and Finance,
Director of Zicklin Online Learning and Evaluation
"We’re trying to evaluate the kinds of online pedagogy that can improve learning for students at Baruch, maybe save space and bring us into the 22nd Century, so to speak."
Part of the Strategic Plan’s mission to enrich and expand academic programs is to explore Baruch’s capacity for and participation in online education. Consequently, Zicklin Online Learning and Evaluation (ZOLE) was formed in 2013 by former interim Zicklin dean Myung-Soo Lee. Economics and finance professor Ted Joyce, whose previous work mainly focused on the economics of health and health care policy, was tapped to head the program.
“My intellectual bailiwick is program evaluation, whether it’s evaluating state laws or reproductive and demographic issues,” says Joyce. “Educational policy is coming to the forefront; I wanted to take what I developed in program evaluation and apply it to pedagogy.” His work with ZOLE specifically assesses the impact of hybrid and online learning modalities.
Field Experiment Yields Useful Data
Last March, he conducted a large, randomized field experiment,comparing two introductory Economics courses, given simultaneously in traditional (two 75-minute lectures weekly) and hybrid (one 75-minute lecture plus online materials and quizzes) formats. The results were encouraging, with the difference in students’ final scores statistically insignificant. Class size did seem to matter, as students in smaller lecture class scored higher in both formats.
This fall Joyce is running the exact same Economics 1001 study with classes given in traditional and hybrid formats, but this time it won’t be randomized.
“In the real world, students aren’t randomized,” he notes. “They pick their class, they pick their time and they pick their professors. With the randomized data, we have the perfect experiment; by running the same class, same issues, and same support this fall, we’ll compare the non-randomized results to the randomized results, and see how well students sort themselves; look at the type of self-selection that goes on.”
" Will high GPA students gravitate toward the hybrid because they know they can handle it, or conversely will the kids who are working 30 hours a week and commuting long distances gravitate toward a hybrid for the wrong reasons?"
The Future of ZOLE
“What we’re trying to do is just get faculty to experiment, run one class hybrid and one traditional,” says Joyce. “The idea is to find some key faculty leaders in each department, recruit them in this endeavor, then try to spring from there.” ZOLE recently received encouraging support in the form of two $100,000 pledges from key alumni, school namesake and chairman of the Baruch College Fund Lawrence Zicklin '57, LHD (Hon.) '99 and from BCF Trustee Joseph S. Pignatelli, Jr. (MS ’99).
Says Joyce, regarding his goals for the next few years, “I really would like to create a repository, a library of experiments in online pedagogies. The more studies we do, the better sense we have of what’s working and what’s not working, and we can iterate towards some higher level of both student learning and faculty engagement and teaching. I really think that we can move things forward with good data, good evaluation, and good recruitment of faculty.”