Case Study: Connect Accounting - Tennessee Tech University

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Accounting

Course Name:

Financial Accounting

Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Financial Accounting by Spiceland, 2e

Instructor Name:

Richard Rand


135/year (instructor total)

500/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Spring 2011

It was critical for us to reduce our workload by creating efficiency with technology. If I have 100 students who get 12 assignments of 15 questions each, Connect lets me outsource grading for 18,000 items in one semester.

-Professor Richard Rand

Digital Course Solution Improves Student Success and Increases Instructor Efficiency

Facing reductions in private and public funding, professors across the country have found themselves teaching larger classes with fewer resources. Determined to provide a quality learning experience for his students, Professor Richard Rand at Tennessee Tech University wanted a way to save faculty time without sacrificing educational quality. He found that Connect allowed him to move assignments online without reducing the educational value of the program.

Institution Profile

The state’s only public technological university, Tennessee Tech University offers more than 40 bachelor’s and 20 graduate programs to nearly 12,000 students.


Course Description:

ACCT 2110 provides an introduction to concepts, theories and procedures of financial accounting and its use by company owners, creditors and other groups. The course covers the accounting cycle, asset valuations, liabilities, income measurement, ownership equities and financial statement preparation.

Course Grade:

  • Three exams 300 points
  • Homework in Connect 200 points
  • Comprehensive final exam 150 points
  • Practice set 50 points

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Rand requires his students to complete related homework assignments of 10 to 15 questions on each chapter in Connect to complement his lessons. He requires assignments in LearnSmart and plans to add Tegrity to his curriculum.

Connect assignments comprise more than 25 percent of a student’s grade. A student has three chances to finish an assignment, and the highest score is recorded. Rand mixes algorithmic and static questions, all generated by and presented in Connect. Exam practices are pools of 50 questions from all chapters and a mix of true/false and multiple choice exercises. Practices include 10 questions from the pool, and students can take them until the exam.

“I still cover the same topics in lecture, but now I have time to develop creative approaches,” Rand said. For example, at the beginning of the semester, Rand divides the class into teams of five students. The teams work to answer Connect questions together. A correct answer wins them a bonus point, while an incorrect answer prompts a class discussion so Rand can explain the concept behind the question. The game serves as a small review that energizes the class. It has been so successful he is considering doing away with the teams and letting students answer individually. “The advantage of using Connect for this game is that questions are easy to select and to display,” Rand said.

“It was important to find a way to create efficiency and maintain a cost-effective learning solution for students that added value beyond simple online homework. By making practice assignments and LearnSmart available to students, I can multiply Connect’s effectiveness.”

“Students ask me more specific questions. I don’t get the ‘I-wasn’t-paying-attention’ questions as often anymore.”

Results Achieved

With Connect, Rand can spend his time working one-on-one with students because his time is not taken up grading dozens of homework assignments and quizzes. Since Connect also analyzes homework responses, Rand can see patterns in incorrect answers and tailor his lessons and review sessions to students’ needs. Student performance has improved under the system. Before implementing it, Rand’s students had a cross-sectional final exam average of 53.3 percent. Now, the exam average has increased to 66.9 percent (see Figure 1).

Rand’s students say they appreciate the online access. “The link to the e-book is helpful,” he said. “Students seem to appreciate that they can spend less money using Connect Plus instead of a hard-copy textbook.”


Professor Rand is happy with Connect in financial accounting as well as intermediate and advanced accounting courses, and has found Connect to be a helpful resource within the college as well. When the TTU College of Business applied for reaccreditation, professors incorporated category analyses from Connect into internal reports and data about learning objectives.