Required Equals Results: Melissa B. Frye, University of Central Florida




“Student engagement in class has improved.”


What impact did requiring digital have on your students’ success?
My students are definitely more prepared for the math portions of the exams. I was so impressed with the improvement in their calculation skills. Also, I spend less time in class reviewing simple homework problems. Student engagement in class has improved as well. I also believe individual assignments ensure that students take responsibility for their own performance.


Which digital tools do you use in your class?
I use Connect. Next semester, I’m going to use LearnSmart and the SmartBook.


When did you begin using digital tools in your classes and what did it replace, if anything?
I started using online homework in 2009. Prior to that, I used group case studies.


When did you decide to require them as part of the course grade?
I started immediately requiring the homework assignments as a portion of the course grade. I anticipated that if I did not require it, then the students who stood to benefit the most from it might not complete it.


What percentage of your course grade is made up by digital tools like Connect and LearnSmart?
Connect is 20% of the course grade. I assign quizzes (15%) and homework (5%).


Why is it important to require digital rather than make it optional?
Students are very focused on grades. If they do not perceive the assignment to be important to their grade, then many of them will not complete it. I really believe the students who need Connect the most are unfortunately the ones who will opt out of it unless it is required.


What advice do you have for instructors who are incorporating digital into their courses for the first time?
Do not be afraid to make the assignments a significant portion of students’ grades. Also, providing multiple attempts with solutions does not imply that the class average will be a 100. Connect assignments are so easy to set up and my students really appreciate the digital tool.


What are you able to do now that you couldn’t before you required digital?
I am now able to give individual assignments without a substantial grading burden on me.


Check out the full Required Equals Results series to hear from other instructors about their experiences.

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  December 02 2013

Required Equals Results: Lana Andrean, Kanawha Valley Community & Technical College




“100% of my course grade is made up by digital tools.”


What impact did requiring digital have on your students’ success?
My classroom now has interactive learning verses passive learning styles with immediate results for LearnSmart and quizzes.


Which digital tools do you use in your class?
I use Connect, LearnSmart, Tegrity, attachments, online quizzes, eBook functions, PsychInteractive and Milestones.


When did you begin using digital tools in your classes and what did it replace, if anything?
Using digital tools replaced traditional lecture and PowerPoint.


When did you decide to require them as part of the course grade?
I required them as part of the course grade from the beginning.


What percentage of your course grade is made up by digital tools like Connect and LearnSmart?
100% of my course grade is made up by digital tools.


Why is it important to require digital rather than make it optional?
It’s important because it allows the student to be more responsible for the assignments as they can view the dates, time element and keep a running total of points assigned to each task. It forces them to be more assertive.


What advice do you have for instructors who are incorporating digital into their courses for the first time?
When in doubt, ask. Don’t be afraid to try a new concept that may make the learning process much more interesting to your students. If you can’t rouse interest, you lose student retention.


What are you able to do now that you couldn’t before you required digital?
I’m able to do just about everything. I give open text online quizzes after each chapter to ensure the short term-working memory is fired up. The students then use the quizzes as a study guide or map to the comprehensive final (also online).


Check out the full Required Equals Results series to hear from other instructors about their experiences.

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  December 02 2013

Required Equals Results: Rachael Gionvenco-Bicknell, Triton College




“It really works. Students are more tech savvy. They really enjoy the interaction with Connect.”


What impact did requiring digital have on your students’ success?
Requiring digital had an impact on test grades.


Which digital tools do you use in your class?
I use LearnSmart and Psych Interaction Media.


When did you begin using digital tools in your classes and what did it replace, if anything?
I started using it in 2012.


When did you decide to require them as part of the course grade?
I decided to require them as part of the course grade when I started to use questions from the test bank.


What percentage of your course grade is made up by digital tools like Connect and LearnSmart?
25% is made up by digital tools.


Why is it important to require digital rather than make it optional?
If I am using your PowerPoint, handouts, etc. I need everything to be consistent in the class.


What advice do you have for instructors who are incorporating digital into their courses for the first time?
It really works. Students are more tech savvy. They really enjoy the interaction with Connect.


What are you able to do now that you couldn’t before you required digital?
I am able to spend less time grading. All assignments deploy to Connect.


Check out the full Required Equals Results series to hear from other instructors about their experiences.

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  December 02 2013

Required Equals Results: Ginny Powell, Georgia Perimeter College




“Each student gets individualized attention, both from ALEKS and from me.”


What impact did requiring digital have on your students’ success?
It’s hard to compare, as we changed our course delivery at the same time we went to ALEKS. But when we used other software and made them optional, many students never bought the code. Now that everyone does, I notice more mathematical discussion. They know what they are working on, because they have to choose a topic by name (e.g., graphing a line given an equation in slope-intercept form, or graphing a line given an equation in standard form. Now they know the difference between the two forms!).


Which digital tools do you use in your class?
ALEKS.


When did you begin using digital tools in your classes and what did it replace, if anything?
I began using ALEKS in an Emporium Model in 2010. Previously, we used MyMathLab as a homework supplement to lecture classes.


When did you decide to require them as part of the course grade?
We have required ALEKS since we started using it. In my experience, students will only buy materials and do work if it is counted in their grade.


What percentage of your course grade is made up by digital tools like Connect and LearnSmart?
Currently, 70% of our course grade is directly from ALEKS. That includes assessments in ALEKS, the pie and worksheets generated in ALEKS. That percentage has been growing over the semesters as we learn how to best use the software.


Why is it important to require digital rather than make it optional?
Anything optional is treated as unimportant. If you have found a digital component that you think is worthwhile, then show that by requiring it. Making it optional indicates that you are unsure and it is maybe kind of helpful but not really… It makes you seem wishy-washy.


What advice do you have for instructors who are incorporating digital into their courses for the first time?
Be sure the software you are using complements your class model, instead of clashing. Don’t try to use a homework automation system to teach and don’t use a teaching tool as only a homework automation system. This may mean major changes and may scare you, but it will be worth it for the students. It’s not about you.


What are you able to do now that you couldn’t before you required digital?
I’m able to get to my students where they are. ALEKS pinpoints what each student knows already and what they are ready to do next. No more lecturing to a room full of glassy eyes because they either have no idea what I’m talking about, or are way past me. Each student gets individualized attention, both from ALEKS and from me.


Check out the full Required Equals Results series to hear from other instructors about their experiences.

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  November 18 2013

Required Equals Results: Bob Mellin, Purdue North Central




“Results indicate a change in the failure rate for English 101 from 24% to 15%.”


What impact did requiring digital have on your students’ success?
I have conducted a pilot for my department, and the results indicate a change in the failure rate for English 101 from 24% to 15%. I’ve also discovered that the pool review questions for Engaging Questions have helped to create better classroom discussions.


Which digital tools do you use in your class?
I use Connect for Composition and Connect for Literature.


When did you begin using digital tools in your classes and what did it replace, if anything?
I began three years ago and the digital tools replace other pedagogical tools.


When did you decide to require them as part of the course grade?
I decided to require them as part of the course grade two years ago.


What percentage of your course grade is made up by digital tools like Connect and LearnSmart?
10% for all sections is made up by digital tools but for the ‘Enhanced’ sections, the Personalized Learning Plan counts for 15%.


Why is it important to require digital rather than make it optional?
It’s naive to think that most students will do additional work without a tangible incentive.


What advice do you have for instructors who are incorporating digital into their courses for the first time?
Start slowly. If you are tentative about any of the programs that you are using, students will have decreased confidence in the software and will blame technology for any number of problems.


What are you able to do now that you couldn’t before you required digital?
I’m able to do many things. This is evolving as the programs become more sophisticated. Generally, though, I had avoided discussion of sentence-level concerns, since these issues are somewhat removed from the focus on writing process and rhetoric. With the Personalized Learning Plan, I can add sentence-level instruction unobtrusively.


Check out the full Required Equals Results series to hear from other instructors about their experiences.

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  November 18 2013

Required Equals Results: David Smith, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi




“I can focus more on the interactions with the students and the lectures than I could before beginning the use of digital materials.”


What impact did requiring digital have on your students’ success?
At this point it is difficult to completely understand and calculate how the students are doing. This group is a fresh batch of new college entries and they are having a difficult time adjusting to the rigors of college.


Which digital tools do you use in your class?
I use Connect.


When did you begin using digital tools in your classes and what did it replace, if anything?
I have been using digital tools for about 18 months. Connect replaced Aplia.


When did you decide to require them as part of the course grade?
I decided to require them as part of the course grade at the time of adoption 18 months ago.


What percentage of your course grade is made up by digital tools like Connect and LearnSmart?
About 35% of the course grade is comprised of digital tools.


Why is it important to require digital rather than make it optional?
I find that if students are required to engage in the material as opposed to making it optional, they tend to understand on a greater level what the potential impact on their grade is.


What advice do you have for instructors who are incorporating digital into their courses for the first time?
Be patient. It is a tool that will facilitate their success in the long-run. Many students are not used to using digital materials. Be prepared for a few mistakes and frustrations. The patience is well worth the payoff at the end of the semester as it all comes together.


What are you able to do now that you couldn’t before you required digital?
I can focus more on the interactions with the students and the lectures than I could before beginning the use of digital materials. Less time is spent grading and more time is spent assisting those students who may not be completely understanding material in class.


Check out the full Required Equals Results series to hear from other instructors about their experiences.

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  November 18 2013

THE CREW
The Connect Team

The Connect Team
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