Case Study: Art - Northern Kentucky University

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Art

Course Name:

Art Appreciation

Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Living with Art by Getlein, 9e

Instructor Name:

Paige Wideman


25/year (instructor total)

1,000/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Spring 2011

“Overall, I am extremely pleased with Connect. The online assignments help to prepare students with a better understanding of art.

It is a great tool to help me engage at-risk students and give them the guidance they need in order to retain them and have them succeed in the course.”

-Professor Paige Wideman

Digital Course Solution Improves Student Success and Instructor Efficiency

Professor Wideman wanted to improve the online Art Appreciation course experience at Northern Kentucky University so that students would have more opportunities to learn and understand art techniques and processes, and to apply that knowledge. Knowing that these students would have no classroom experience or personal contact with her, she needed a solution that would allow students to interact and engage with the artwork while allowing her to closely track their progress. Connect Art provided both, leading to an increase in exam score averages and an eight point improvement in pass rates.

Institution Profile

Northern Kentucky University is a growing campus in the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area. The four-year public university enrolls more than 15,000 students and offers 70 bachelor’s degrees, six associate degrees, 22 graduate programs and two doctoral programs. It is largely a commuter campus, with only 14% of the 13,000+ undergraduates living in University Housing.


Course Description:

This course is an introduction to the fundamental elements of fine art. Emphasis is placed on developing seeing skills, a working visual art vocabulary, and an understanding of a variety of art processes. This development will be fostered through viewing, discussing and writing about art.

Course Grade:

  • 45% of the final grade based on quizzes in Connect Art
  • 30% of the final grade based on tests in Connect Art
  • 15% of the final grade based on Discussion Board assignments
  • 10% of the final grade based on the final exam

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Professor Wideman requires her students to read each chapter in the textbook and take 1-2 quizzes in Connect Art each week. Half of the quizzes she assigns contain approximately 20 questions that are either multiple choice or true/false. The other half contain interactive modules which test student comprehension and applied knowledge of the concepts. These usually average eight questions, which can be either open-ended short answer or drag-and-drop images. “Connect is extremely easy to create assignments in, and provides wonderful access to visual elements from the text and videos,” she says.

Since there is no classroom experience in this course, Professor Wideman has found it vital to have additional tools available to help students understand techniques and process information. In addition to delivering all quizzes and tests through Connect, she finds the technique videos and interactive quizzes to be the most important assets. “This past semester, the interactive quizzes really had an impact on the students’ ability to process information and understand that they were ready for the tests,” she says. “I received tons of positive feedback in that area of using Connect.”

Professor Wideman uses the Assignment Results and Student Performance reports in Connect, and credits these for the higher retention and success rates of her students. Without the personal contact of traditional, face-to-face teaching, the reports help her to identify students at risk and intervene before it is too late. “I find that online courses do pose a trickier problem with communication and comprehension. However, I believe that Connect Art helped to retain more students throughout the course.”

Results Achieved

Professor Wideman’s pass rate for the course has increased by eight points since implementing Connect Art. During the Spring 2010 semester, before implementing Connect, 92% of her students passed the course. In Spring 2011, with the use of Connect, 100% of students passed (see Figure 1).​

Average exam scores also showed improvement after implementing Connect (see Figure 2). “Students are actually having to process and interpret the information more, and in the long run, become more informed and better educated,” she happily reports.

Grading time has been greatly reduced since the large majority of the assignments and all of the quizzing and testing for the web-based class are now done in Connect. These assignments are automatically graded, so the four hours Professor Wideman previously spent grading each week is now down to one hour of reviewing and monitoring student progress (see Figure 3). “Less time reviewing homework is the main benefit of assigning homework online. From my perspective, it has eased grading tremendously and freed up time during the week to focus on outside activities and professional pursuits.”

Northern Kentucky University also uses Blackboard&trade, and during the Summer 2011 term, Professor Wideman began using the McGraw-Hill and Blackboard total course solution. This integration of Connect and Blackboard saves even more time as Connect grades seamlessly populate her Blackboard course gradebook.


Professor Wideman is pleased with the way that Connect Art has allowed her to successfully deliver an online version of her Art Appreciation course. The interactive tools and technique videos for her students, along with the student performance reports, have overcome the absence of personal contact. In fact, she now plans to implement Connect in her on-campus sections as well. “As coordinator of Art Appreciation, I will be requiring all instructors to use Connect in their courses on campus. This will also help us to keep better records of overall student performance with the charts and statistics I can generate.”