Case Study: Accounting - Madison Area Technical College

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Accounting
LMS Integration:Blackboard

Course Name:

Accounting I - Principles

Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Fundamental Accounting Principles by John J. Wild, Ken W. Shaw, and Barbara Chiappetta, 20th ed

Instructor Name:

M. Jeff Quinlan


3 sections

22 students/section

400 students/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Fall 2010 (without Connect)

Fall 2014 (with Connect and SmartBook)

“I have seen significant improvement in all areas of student learning: grade distribution, pass rates, retention rates, and exam scores.”

-M. Jeff Quinlan

Connect and SmartBook Improves Student Outcomes and Provides For More Hands-On Teaching in the Classroom

Instructor Quinlan chose Connect because he wanted his students to have more experience with algorithmic questions and to receive immediate feedback on their homework assignments. With Connect, Quinlan has more class prep time to create in-class group work. Results show 34% more students stay in the course, 5% more students pass the course, and exam scores improve by as much as 16%. Quinlan says, “With Connect, we are able to be more flexible and serve more students per section. Add retention and that is an unbeatable combination, sure to make any administrator smile.”

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Course grade is determined by the following:

  • 37.5% - Connect Assignments (Interactive Video, Homework, SmartBook)
  • 37.5% - Connect Exams
  • 25% - Proctored Final Exam

Quinlan assigns an interactive video and SmartBook assignment due prior to class. After the students meet in class, he assigns homework in Connect for each chapter. The homework is 10- 15 multiple choice questions, 4-6 exercises, and 1-3 problems per assignment that covers 1-3 learning objectives. The Connect homework allows students to gain experience with algorithmic questions and provides immediate feedback. Quinlan notes, “With Connect, students get feedback immediately, and with algorithmic questions, they do their own work and can attempt newly generated assignments multiple times. Imagine, students doing more accounting homework. It shows in their grade.” The SmartBook assignment creates a personalized reading experience by highlighting the most impactful concepts a student needs to learn at that moment in time. “Students don’t send me many emails thanking me for forcing them to read, but I did get a few commenting SmartBook helped focus their attention to what was important. If it didn’t make sense after reading the highlighted areas, they kept reading,” says Quinlan.

Class time has become more focused when using the SmartBook reports. Before class Quinlan reviews the Progress Overview and Missed Questions reports in SmartBook which then pinpoints which problems and learning objectives to focus on during class. In Connect, he downloads the Assignment Results in Excel for course grade calculation, and he uses the At-Risk Reports as a quick way to determine the students who may need extra attention in the course. Quinlan says, “The reports provide me with the rationale to initiate contact with struggling students, without having to hand back homework with red marks all over it.”

Quinlan spends far less time collecting, correcting, and returning homework: “Students enjoy the immediate feedback and multiple attempts using algorithmic questions, and they accept the computer as the `bad guy’ when items are marked incorrect much more easily than they accept the instructor’s red marks.” Further, he believes students are willing to try more often with the computer when they may have given up with hard copy homework.

The course implementation included single sign-on access, automatic gradebook synchronization, and the ability to embed McGraw-Hill content within the normal Blackboard course workflow. “I integrate Connect with Blackboard...single sign-on works well and eases student inquiry of gradebook”, says Quinlan.

He recommends that instructors start implementing Connect simply: “Create assignments identical with what you would do without Connect. Then add and change as you get comfortable with   . Before long you will love it!” While his online sections are not covered in this case study, Quinlan just started requiring SmartBook for those sections and he reports, “I just finished my grades for the latest Accounting I class that required SmartBook...and I am BLOWN AWAY with the results...especially for an online class! 26/30 students passed with no ‘D’ or ‘C’ grades, this is amazing. Typically nearly 1/3 withdraw and the grades vary widely. Also, I have received more positive feedback than in the past along with more A and B grades than typical.”


Quinlan uses Connect because more of his students stay with the class, pass the class and pass with A’s. He says, “I have seen significant improvement in all areas of student learning: grade distribution, retention rates, pass rates, and exam scores.”

As a result of using Connect retention rates have gone up (Figure 1). In Fall 2010, prior to using Connect, 61% of Quinlan’s students completed the course. In Fall 2014, 95% of the students stayed in the course for a 34% improvement.

Prior to implementing Connect, Quinlan’s students passed at a rate of 90%. With Connect, his students pass at a rate of 95% (Figure 2).

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to the field of accounting, including the accounting cycle of journalizing transactions; posting, adjusting and closing entries; and the preparation of accounting statements emphasized for service industries and merchandising concerns. Details of accounting for cash and receivables are studied. An introduction to a computerized accounting system is also included.

Institution Profile:

Madison Area Technical College (MATC) has four campuses in Madison and four regional campuses throughout South Central Wisconsin. Students can choose from associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates in more than 144 career programs in 17 different career clusters that include agriculture; finance; government and public administration; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; and transportation, distribution, and logistics.

Exam score averages have also climbed consistently by as much as 10% on the first test and 17% on the final exam (Figure 3).

Quinlan used to spend an average of 6 hours reviewing homework, 6 hours grading, and 1 hour giving quizzes a week. Quinlan is now able to spend more time applying concepts and helping his students actively learn in class (Figure 4). He says, “More in-class group work is possible because I am no longer having to handle in-class quizzes and all of the paper homework exchanges.”

Prior to using Connect, 50% of his time was devoted to prepping for lecture (Figure 5). Now that he isn’t spending as much time reviewing homework and grading, Quinlan is able to dedicate 100% of his time prepping for lecture. “I have far more time to prepare and create in-class group work that facilitates learning by supplementing with a lecture. I can’t image teaching without Connect.”

“SmartBook will play an integral part in my future classes. There is no doubt of the positive impact and overall success rate.”


Quinlan uses Connect because he has “seen significant improvement in all areas of student learning: grade distribution, retention rates, pass rates, and exam scores.” In fact, 34% more students stay in the course, 5% more of his students pass the class and exam scores improve by as much as 16%. Quinlan concludes: “With Connect, you will have better grades, pass rates, and retention rates, while having additional time to prepare for class and you will get to do more `doing’ in class.”