Bowling Green State University

SmartBook™’s Adaptive Technology Encourages a Successful Learning Environment in a Flipped Classroom that Leads to Student Success by Increasing GPAs and Retention Rates

In an Overview of Business course, Ruth White and her colleagues work with business students in three ways: career planning, student success and engagement, and business course content. White says, "We no longer have time to focus on just business content, so we need a tool that students can’t `click through.’ SmartBook is the best online technology available to encourage students to read course content and learn outside of class."

Further, White says, with previous online technologies, all students received the same content delivered the same way. However, with adaptive technology, stronger students can move at their own pace through the material. Additionally, instructors no longer need to develop all the course materials by themselves. "Many additional course materials, such as quizzes and videos, help take the burden of developing course content off the instructors each semester," she says.

SmartBook is the only adaptive learning technology available from publishers, making Connect the best online learning technology available today.
Ruth White


The course grade is determined by the following:
8.3% SmartBook exercises
12.5% Connect application exercises
22.7% Exams using the Connect test bank
56.5% Current News & Assimilation assignments

Throughout the semester, 11 chapters are assigned outside of class to facilitate a "flipped classroom" environment. Students are asked to have read the chapter before the lecture so that they are prepared for the group activity exercises done in class. "We use current news and case studies in class to facilitate a Connection, and deeper understanding between concepts students study from SmartBook and their understanding of that concept through an example from current news," White says. Connect integrates with Canvas easily allowing the students to log-in once and always have access to the 11 chapters.

There are six modules of content based on the six degrees offered to students. Each module covers one to two chapters and, for each chapter assigned, students complete a SmartBook assignment (that averages 45 minutes in length) covering the concepts. Next, students complete application exercises that are timed (similar to a quiz), but the students have an adequate amount of time (about an hour) to work through the questions. At the end of the module, students take an exam with questions from the test bank in Connect.

During the one to two weeks, students spend on the concepts; students are encouraged to continue working with the concepts by using the tools Connect provides, including: "quiz me," flash cards and the PowerPoints. Using Connect outside of class for homework and exams allows for more concentrated time in class for group-based activity learning and for applying the concept to real-world activities.

In Connect, White uses "Assignment Results" and "Student Performance" reports. In SmartBook, she uses "Student Details." White says, " I use the reports to help students who are behind catch up, as well as to see how the class is doing overall."

Results Achieved

Students who want an A in the class heed White’s advice and use the extra study tools offered in Connect. She says, "Many students achieve 100% on their Application Exercises Review Quiz, and most students work the SmartBook assignment to a 100% achievement level as well. These tools help students score higher on the module exams, which feature questions right out of the test bank."

Module exam scores generally go up as students learn how best to use Connect and Smartbook for their learning styles. White tracked 462 students before Connect was implemented and compared grades to the 596 students using Connect. 4% more students achieved A’s and 3% more students earned B’s after using Connect (Figure 1).

White says, "The only part of those distribution grades that has changed is the use of Connect versus using another publisher’s materials or instructor developed materials. I call that a `win’!"

Overall, average scores in the six module exams go up by about five percentage points per student. She says, "In our classes, students receive an A, B, C, or no grade in the course. In the years since using Connect, there are no D’s or F’s. Instead, those students receive a score of No Grade."

To encourage student achievement, White extended the length of time required in SmartBook per assignment this year and attributed the higher grades to making students spend more time studying in SmartBook.

Before implementing Connect, students in 16 sections averaged a grade distribution score of 3.04; however, after implementing Connect, students in 17 sections averaged 3.24 (Figure 2).

Being on the retention committee for Bowling Green State University, White pays close attention to retention rates. With Connect, retention rates have increased by 5%.

When preparing for lectures, the time needed for preparation has decreased. By keeping lecture to a minimum with the help of Connect, White has more time in class for group activity-based learning, which allows for more concentrated time in class on applying the concepts to real-world activities. "I no longer need to come up with new material for assignments as information changes in the business environment. I only focus on my current news and case study materials to get prepared for class," says White.

There is now more time to research current news each week as grading time has been reduced by 12 hours per week with Connect (Figure 4).


Connect / SmartBook engages students out of class with adaptive technology that students can use individually. With these tools, students learn course content and thrive in a flipped classroom environment where time spent in class is for discussion of current events, application of course content with real-world case studies, and small group, hands-on activities. After implementing Connect / SmartBook, more students have earned A’s, B’s, and C’s, and students’ GPAs have increased by 20 percent.

During class, we use current news, case study, and group activity assignments to help students apply the knowledge base they have from using Connect. Because we implement concepts in class, I’m able to engage more with the students and their questions, instead of having to reiterate a concept in a lecture. I love it when on my end of semester surveys, the students claim they learned more in this class than any other.

Ruth White has an MBA with Accounting Specialization and has taught at Bowling Green State University and two community colleges. She teaches students in her business courses using The Wall Street Journal as an additional class textbook to acclimate students to current events. White also has experience in corporate management and tax preparation. She has worked for companies that include: Avon Products, Inc., Well Fargo, and Aldi’s Grocery Stores.

Digital Product in Use: Connect® Introduction to Business
LMS Integration: Canvas
Course Name: BA 1500 Overview of Business
Course Type: Face-to-Face / Flipped
Credit Hours: Three
Program in Use: Business, 6th edition, by O.C. Ferrell, Geoffrey A. Hirt, & Linda Ferrell
Instructor: Ruth White
Enrollment: 35 students per section; 695 year (university total)

Instructor's implementation goals

  • Encourage students to read course materials outside of class
  • Adaptive technology so strong students don’t have to wait for weaker students to understand the content
  • Instructors don’t have to develop all course materials themselves
  • Allow for a flipped classroom environment, so time in class is for a deeper understanding of content versus a lecture on basic concepts

Issues for instructor before using Connect

  • Class time needed for more than just teaching course content
  • Encourage students to read course materials outside of class
  • Instructors having the burden of developing class materials
  • Students working at different paces

Benefits to instructor after using Connect

  • Using classroom and lab time for application activities instead of lecture
  • SmartBook’s adaptive technology allows students to work at their own pace through the material
  • GPAs increased
  • More time to answer content-related questions in class versus lecturing on a concept
  • Reduced grading time
  • Able to focus on current events in business and case study examples for class discussions

Course Description

In this first-year business experience course, students will learn: critical thinking and 21st-century problem solving, assimilation, and adjustment to college-level expectations, career planning, ethics, and social responsibility, and business knowledge. Further, students will learn about and be asked to demonstrate that they understand the basics of the business framework, its economic context, and how each of the business disciplines in the framework contribute to the creation and delivery of sustainable customer value.

Institution Profile

Bowling Green State University is located 30 miles south of Toledo in northwest Ohio and has an enrollment of over 19,000 students. BGSU is ranked as one of the top public universities nationwide by U.S. News and World Report and is known for having a strong commitment to first year programs that lead to success. The BSBA program is nationally ranked in the top 50 programs among hundreds of public institutions in the U.S., according to 2010 BusinessWeek rankings.