Columbus State Community College | Columbus, OH

Increased Student Engagement and Less Time Grading when Requiring Connect and SmartBook

Dr. Shannon Bookout wanted to find a way for students to receive instant feedback on homework assignments and grades. When Bookout started using Connect, she immediately implemented the completion of quizzes and homework problems in Connect. As SmartBook became available, she began by offering the assignments as a resource only; then she made the assignments extra credit; now she requires the assignments completed in SmartBook. Bookout says, "Since making SmartBook a requirement that must be completed prior to accessing the course assignments, success rates have improved from the same semester a year ago."

Bookout covers 12 chapters in the 16-week semester. For each chapter, Bookout assigns SmartBook assignments, a chapter quiz, and a set of the chapter end problems. She also assigns a comprehensive problem that covers several chapters. By using the prerequisite feature in Connect, students are required to complete SmartBook assignments before gaining access to quizzes and other homework assignments.

All Connect and SmartBook assignments are paired with the course in Blackboard. Students access Connect through Blackboard to complete the assignments and quizzes. The scores transfer from Connect to the grade center in Blackboard automatically. Students appreciate the seamless integration with Blackboard and how easy it is to use and access Connect. "Students find using Connectconvenient because it can be accessed from anywhere on any device," says Bookout.

Bookout uses the Assignment Results and the At-Risk Reports in Connect to help her understand where students are struggling – either with the content or with establishing study habits that will help them succeed. The reports make it easy to identify students who may not be exerting the effort necessary to learn the coursework. Bookout says, "When some students understand that I can see when they access the material and how long they spend on the assignments, they realize some of the excuses they provide will not work. This wealth of information seems to improve their engagement in the coursework."


Course grade is determined by the following:
46% –Exams
29% – Connect homework
12% – Quizzes (administered within Connect)
9% – LearnSmart
4% –Discussion Boards

Required assignments for Bookout's course include 12 SmartBook assignments and several Homework Problems for each chapter. Homework assignments can be attempted an unlimited number of times prior to the due date. The highest score will count toward the student's grade. Bookout drops the lowest homework score. The actual assignments are noted in each module, are included in the course schedule, and are due at midnight on the due date.

Each chapter will have a 15-point quiz. Ten of those quizzes will count toward the grade; the lowest score will be dropped. The quizzes are required to be completed in Connect by the due date specified in the course calendar. Each student can attempt the quiz twice with the highest score being counted for a grade.

Bookout also incorporates comprehensive problems in the course. These problems require more calculation and analysis than the homework problems and are worth more points. Like homework problems, the comprehensive problems are completed in Connect with an unlimited number of attempts prior to the due date. The highest attempt counts toward the grade.

The course consists of three units and there is an exam for each unit with specific chapters being covered in each unit.

Exam 1 – Unit 1 – Chapters 1, 2, 4, 5
Exam 2 – Unit 2 – Chapters 6, 8, 9, 13
Exam 3 – Unit 3 – Chapters 10, 11, 7, 14

Bookout says, "The most successful implementation I have made is utilizing the prerequisite feature in Connect that allows me to be able to assign SmartBook before students can gain access to any other assignments for a given chapter." She believes, for accounting courses, experience shows that breaking up study time into more frequent smaller units is more effective than studying in one large block of time. She likes that there is an exam review for each unit and reminds her students on her syllabus: "Experience shows that answering review questions as you study each chapter is more beneficial than just looking at the review questions prior to the exam."


Students' grades improved when Bookout required the use of SmartBook as a prerequisite, so that students are required to complete the SmartBook assignments prior to gaining access to the quizzes and other homework assignments.

The analytic tools help Bookout see how much effort students are exerting, how much time they are spending to complete the homework assignments, and which areas of content were troublesome for students. Instant grading and feedback in Connect allows Bookout to focus more time on teaching and less time on grading.

Shannon Bookout

Shannon Bookout is an Associate Professor of Accounting and the Coordinator of the Marketing Program at Columbus State Community College. She teaches undergraduate and graduate accounting and finance classes that include: financial accounting, managerial accounting, intermediate accounting, individual taxation, business taxation, state and local taxation, corporate finance, financial analysis and reporting, information systems, and the accounting capstone course. She is also a Distance Learning Lead faculty, who provides all of the training and support to full-time and adjunct department faculty teaching online.

Connect offers instant grading and feedback on assignments saving instructors' time, so more attention can be spent on actually teaching rather than grading..
Shannon Bookout, Instructor
"Compared to other publisher's homework systems, Connect is far superior," Bookout says. "And, because the tools and upgrades are consistently occurring, one would be hard-pressed to create comparable content in-house."

Digital Product in Use: Connect® Accounting
LMS Integration: Blackboard
Course Name: ACCT 2232—Federal Taxation I
Course Type: Blended Lecture and Online
Credit Hours: Three
Program in Use: Taxation of Individuals and Business Entities (with Connect) by Spilker, et. al, 2017 edition
Instructor Name: Shannon Bookout, DBA, CPA
Enrollment: 20 students per section; 3 sections; 100 year (university total)
Case Study Terms: 2015 and 2016

Instructor's implementation goals:

  • Provide students with the opportunity to learn content instead of trying to figure out how to complete an assignment
  • Make students' grades and feedback available immediately
  • Grade less homework manually so more time can be used for teaching
  • Improve student engagement

Benefits to instructor after using Connect:

  • Improve understanding of the content because students must complete the SmartBook assignment before gaining access to the assignments for a given chapter
  • Less time spent answering e-mail queries about reading assignments
  • Access to reports that show where students are struggling
  • Tie Learning Objectives to Learning Outcomes easily
  • Help overcome educational challenges by allowing the instructor to create assessments that can be either formative or summative

Course Description:

ACCT 2232 covers individual income taxes, returns, income exemptions, deductions, gains and losses, rates, and adjustments. This course also explores problems of proprietorship, partnerships, corporations, inventories, depreciation accounting, installment and deferred sales treatment. Filing requirements, payments, refunds, claims, and tax planning techniques are discussed

Institution Profile:

Columbus State Community College offers two-year career opportunities in more than 55 areas of business, health, public service, human service, and engineering technologies through their Career Programs division. Students can also begin their bachelor's degree with the College of Arts and Science and transfer to a four-year college using the Bachelor's Degree Transfer Programs. The Community Education and Workforce Development division offers continuing education classes, licensure courses, and personal enrichment courses. Distance Learning offers opportunities for online courses, and K-12 Programs provides coursework for high school students.