Forty-nine staff members were nominated for the Staff Employee of the Year Award in four categories. Among the innovation nominees, one stood out from the rest — Kiran Budhrani.
As associate director of personalized and adaptive learning in the Center for Teaching and Learning in the School of Professional Studies, Budhrani demonstrated exceptional innovation and leadership through the implementation of a large-scale academic transformation project in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics to aid student learning.
During summer 2019, she co-led a three-day “course design sprint” with faculty from all of the social science disciplines and statistics to determine essential skills students needed for their majors and careers in the social sciences and how they would be taught. The result was a model Budhrani named “Active+Adaptive Learning.” In this model, students use an adaptive learning system to master statistics skills by engaging with electronic courseware that provides individualized content, practice, feedback and unique learning paths. These skills are applied in the classroom through active and team-based learning.
For fall 2019 and spring 2020, Budhrani led a team of faculty to create all courses in the Realizeit adaptive learning platform. This included course content, assessments, learning paths and everything in between. She also led creation of in-class activities for skill application. During the 2020-21 academic year, Budhrani oversaw the piloting of the course, refining and troubleshooting along the way and creating support processes and development programs for faculty to succeed in teaching in a new and innovative way. Students performed so well in the pilot sections that the new course design was implemented in more sections of STAT 1222 in fall 2021 and all sections in spring 2022.
One major outcome of this project is the removal of an algebra course prerequisite by incorporating algebraic skills directly into the new course design. Removing this prerequisite shortens time to degree and decreases equity gaps by over 6% compared to the old course.
One student stated, “As a person who really struggles with math, I have had the best experience so far in this stats class!”
Another student emphasized how the design made learning easier: “I loved this statistics class. I feel that the way this class was designed helped me learn a lot better.”
Budhrani’s innovation not only resulted in improved learning for students but reduced student costs. The old course cost each student $210 in textbooks and equipment, and the new course costs $48, a 77% reduction. With 1,022 students enrolled in STAT 1222 in spring 2022 alone, the total cost savings to students this semester is more than $165,000. This is an innovative approach to stewardship of resources, not only those allocated by the state but for students.
“Through her tireless efforts, Budhrani leveraged every skill she has in instructional design, project management, technical expertise, faculty development and communications to create something special at Charlotte,'' said J. Garvey Pyke, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. “She embraced a ‘students-first mindset’ to help solve large-scale problems for the University. Those who have worked with her on this project know her dedication to success as well as her unyielding kindness, patience and grace throughout all of the ups and downs of this initiative. People are drawn to her enthusiasm and optimism in making a difference for our students.”
All 2022 Employee of the Year recipients were honored at an event Tuesday, April 26.