Case Study: Anatomy & Physiology - Hinds Community College

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Anatomy & Physiology

Course Name:

BIO 2523 Anatomy and Physiology II

Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Hole's Human Anatomy & Physiology by Shier, 12e

Instructor Name:

Sharon Feaster


24/term (instructor total)

2,000+/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Fall 2011

Connect provides highly engaging and interactive activities that directly correspond to what is covered in class. Today’s students are visual and they love using computers. Connect activities encourage them to study and to learn through an environment that is fun.

-Professor Sharon Feaster

Digital Course Solution Improves Student Success and Increases Instructor Efficiency

In 2010, Professor Sharon Feaster began offering Connect Anatomy & Physiology to her students as an extra study tool. In 2011, when she required students to complete homework assignments within Connect, she witnessed dramatic improvement in student grades, pass rates and retention. During the Fall 2011 semester when Connect was required, 22% more students passed the course and 29% more students completed the course than during the previous semester. Professor Feaster credits Connect with having made a real difference for her students.

Institution Profile

Hinds Community College is a public community college (the largest in the state of Mississippi) that provides academic opportunities to approximately 32,000 students through academic, career/technical, workforce, and secondary and adult education programs. Students attend from more than 70 Mississippi counties to earn associate’s degrees in various disciplines including: nursing, law enforcement, theatre, zoology, physics, astronomy, communications, and art. Many students complete their two-year general requirements at Hinds Community College before transferring to a four year university.


Course Description:

This is a lecture course that pursues detailed studies of anatomy and physiology, including the human special senses and the endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, and urinary systems.

Course Grade:

Lecture Class

  • 80% of the final grade based on six unit exams and one final exam
  • 20% of the final grade based on 12 chapter assignments within Connect Anatomy & Physiology

Lab Class

  • 75% of the final grade based on six unit exams and one final exam
  • 25% of the final grade based on 12 chapter assignments within Connect Anatomy & Physiology

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Professor Feaster wanted to motivate her students to spend more time studying outside of the classroom. She says, “I was intrigued by McGraw-Hill LearnSmart™ (the adaptive learning system within Connect) and its ability to show students their weaknesses and to then guide them to the textbook pages that cover the weak areas. Also, I liked the fact that I could quiz them using diagrams from the book, and be able to edit the diagrams.”

She initially offered Connect as an optional study tool for the students, but says she jumped at the chance to use Connect even more when it was fully integrated with Blackboard Learn. Due to the ease of use offered by the integration, Connect Anatomy & Physiology is now a required part of her course. For her lecture courses, she assigns LearnSmart modules and interactive quiz assignments. For her lab classes, she assigns quizzes that incorporate labeling, APR images, her own micrographs, and questions pertaining to weekly lab activities. She says, “Connect makes it easy to have visual assignments (like labeling) that are important in a course like A&P.” All course handouts and Connect chapter assignments are available on the Blackboard course site. Each of the twelve chapter assignments is open for a certain number of days. The two lowest chapter scores are dropped.

“One student described LearnSmart as her own personal tutor. Several students have told me that they like that LearnSmart stops and directs them to the textbook when they continually miss questions pertaining to a particular topic.”

Results Achieved

A higher percentage of students passed with a higher grade, and fewer students failed exams when Connect was a requirement for the course versus when it was provided as an optional resource. In fact, 95% of students passed the course with a C or higher when Connect was required, versus only 73% passing with a C or higher the previous semester (see Figure 1) - an increase of 22%! Professor Feaster also saw improvement in exam scores. 54% of the students passed the first exam with a C or higher when Connect was required, versus only 34% when Connect was optional.

On the second exam, 59% of students passed with an A, B or C, while 27% of students failed. During the prior fall semester, only 38% of the students passed and 49% of students failed. Professor Feaster reports that this trend continued for all six exams throughout the course (see Figure 2).

Class retention was significantly impacted as well, with over four times as many students dropping out when Connect was not required. In 2010, 38% of the students withdrew from the course. In 2011, only 9% of the students withdrew. She assumes that fewer students felt compelled to withdraw because they were succeeding in the course.

Professor Feaster comments, “Connect Anatomy and Physiology impacted borderline students. The fact that I required them to do the graded assignments helped them study and LEARN material (it was not just busy work to give them extra grades).” She was also pleased to find that she now spends a lot less time grading since the assignment results in Connect automatically sync with the Blackboard GradeCenter.


Professor Feaster says, “I observed that A students are going to make A’s regardless of what is asked (or not asked) of them. The Connect and LearnSmart assignments force all of the students to study in a variety of ways . . . which evidently improves their understanding.” The data backs this up, showing that Connect made a significant difference for students who might have otherwise withdrawn from or failed the course or who may not learned the material well enough to pass the course. As a result, Professor Feaster “absolutely” recommends Connect to other faculty.