Case Study: Connect® Accounting - Central New Mexico Community College

Digital Product in Use:

McGraw-Hill Connect® Accounting

LMS Integration:


Course Name:

Introduction to Financial Accounting

Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Program in Use:

Financial Accounting Fundamentals by John J. Wild, 5e

Instructor Name:

Ann K. Brooks


34 students per section; 3 sections; 170 year (University total)

Case Study Term:

Spring, 2015 and Fall, 2015

“More students are passing and grades are significantly improved due to using Interactive Presentations, SmartBook and guided homework videos all within Connect.”

-Instructor Ann Brooks

Exam Scores, Pass Rate and Retention Rate Improve with Connect and SmartBook

Instructor Ann Brooks was looking for a program to improve student performance and engagement in her Financial Accounting class. With Connect and SmartBook, students completed the work necessary to master the chapter material and in a way that appealed to their diverse learning styles. Students now report a greater understanding of the material and she fields fewer questions from students who previously didn’t grasp the content. Brooks says, “Connect has allowed me to focus my online teaching to understanding how businesses will use the accounting information in business decisions.”


Course grade is determined by the following:
10% – SmartBook and Interactive presentations
10% – Connect homework exercises (Guided Examples)
10% – Connect homework exercises (Algorithmic Questions)
5% – Required discussion board postings
5% – Orientation assignments
60% – Exams and final

Brooks assigns four Connect assignments weekly covering about one chapter. These assignments include SmartBook, an Interactive Presentation, four to five optional mini exercises, six Guided Examples, and four to six algorithmic questions.

SmartBook creates a personalized reading experience by highlighting the most impactful concepts a student needs to learn at that moment in time and then reinforces the concepts through questions that adapt based upon how the students answers them. As a student engages with SmartBook, the reading and learning experience continuously adapts by focusing the student on content they need to learn based on what the student knows and doesn’t know.

Interactive Presentations teach each chapter’s core learning objectives and concepts through an engaging, hands-on presentation.

The Guided Examples provided narrated and animated, step-by-step walkthroughs of algorithmic versions of assigned exercises and provided immediate feedback and focus on the areas where students needed the most guidance.

The algorithmic questions provide Brooks the ability to assign unique data for each exercise and each attempt, providing an infinite number of assignments with solutions. Consequently, students can work the same problem structure with different number sets until they master the task. The immediate scoring and feedback options in Connect Accounting helped guide and optimize student learning.

As a best practice, Brooks starts out the course by requiring students to complete the Interactive Presentation and SmartBook orientations provided in Connect.

For each chapter students were required to complete the Interactive Presentation and SmartBook assignments by Monday morning. During the week students would then complete homework mini exercises—due Wednesday morning—and post a required homework question by Saturday. They would complete homework exercises (Guided Examples and algorithmic questions) by Sunday. The mini exercises were optional but points earned were added to the students’ total points.

The Connect and SmartBook reports give Brooks quick insight to which objectives and assignments students are encountering difficulties. She uses the report data to adjust her course communication, provide needed exam preparation, and intervene with students demonstrating poor study behavior.

  • Insight dashboard: Brooks reviews the dashboard after each assignment to get a quick idea how the class results fall into upper and lower results. “I also use this to know which students are waiting until the last minute to start an assignment.”

  • Assignment Results Report: Allows Brooks to easily compare how multiple sections do on the same assignment.

  • Item Analysis Report: Brooks can see which objectives or items students had struggled with. “I then use these results for my announcement of letting the class know where the class had the most difficulty so that students can see how they compared to the entire class.” Brooks also uses this report for preparing the review exam.

  • Progress Overview Report: Informs Brooks on how much time students have spent on the assignments. “I look for students spending a significant amount of time and not performing well. I try to connect to these students early and review how they are using Connect and approaching the material.”

  • Module Details Report: Shows which learning objectives students are having the greatest difficulty comprehending. If it is a learning objective that students will be tested on in exams, Brooks posts additional help after the assignment for students to use when studying for the exam.

  • Missed Questions Report: Uses the data to add information to the Chapter Homework Hints to help students better understand what the question is asking for or what the common mistakes are.

Brooks seamlessly integrates Connect with Blackboard. She utilizes Blackboard Learn to communicate announcements to students as well as for discussion board and course messages. She uses announcements for reminders and to let students know what the class will be covering during the week, as well as what issues were encountered by students the prior week. Students use the discussion board to post homework questions. Brooks employs course messages to communicate to students any grade issues or other personal information.

Results Achieved

Since implementing Connect, Brooks is spending less time fielding questions from students. “When I look at the time spent on assignments, students on average are spending six to ten hours completing all the assignments which is where they should be on time,” she says. “Connect has reduced the time I spend answering questions online and the time I spend in my online office hour web conference each week.”

Grades have significantly improved due to using Connect and SmartBook with 4% more A’s, 15% more B’s, and 14% less F’s (Figure 1).

“Significantly more students completed and passed homework assignments,” says Brooks. In addition, the percentage of students passing the class increased 13% (Figure 2).

Brook’s retention rate is also up since she implemented Connect. On average about five percent more students completed the course (Figure 3).

Exam scores have improved for all tests, with average final exam scores rising from 60 percent to 73 percent. Overall, exam scores were 10 points higher using Connect (Figure 4). “I attribute this to their having Interactive Presentations done at the beginning of the week and SmartBook completed before exams,” Brooks says.

Instructor’s implementation goals:

  • Improve student performance

  • Increase student engagement

Issues for instructor before using Connect:

  • Class grade results were low, and Brooks wanted additional resources to engage students such as Interactive Presentations and SmartBook

  • Without Connect there was no requirement for students to complete their videos or Interactive Presentations

Benefits to instructor after using Connect:

  • Grading time decreased

  • Student exam scores increased by 10 percent and final exams are up by 13 percent

  • Student retention rate increased by 5 percent

Course Description:

Students analyze and record business transactions, implement accrual basis accounting and prepare basic financial statements. In addition, students apply generally accepted accounting principles to the elements of the balance sheet. This class is fast-paced.

Institution Profile:

Central New Mexico Community College, in Albuquerque was founded in 1965 and formerly known as the Albuquerque Technical Vocation Institute. In 2009 it became the largest postsecondary institution in New Mexico with an enrollment of 24,621 students. CNM offers 47 associate degrees from arts and sciences to career and technical fields. It features four campus location in Albuquerque as well as one campus location in Rio Rancho.

“Students are less afraid of exams since they know they have learned the material. Also I see more students completing class reflection questions because they did well on homework assignments and did not need to post a question for help on homework.”


Student reviews have been highly positive about using Connect. They indicate it’s helped them both with learning the material and performing in class. Brooks says students spend about the same amount of time on assignments as they did before Connect, but with higher understanding of the material when they’re finished. With Connect, the percentage of students passing the class has increased 13 percent. In addition, A’s and B’s have increased, while the rate of C’s, D’s, and F’s has dropped. At the same time, Brooks’ grading time has dropped significantly.