Bowling Green State University | Bowling Green, OH

After Requiring Connect and SmartBook/LearnSmart Assignments Due Prior to Class, Lecture Is No Longer a "Quiet, Dead Zone" and 24% More Students Pass the Course

Prior to implementing Connect and SmartBook/LearnSmart, Professor Kyle Moninger was assigning homework problems from a textbook and using other problems he had collected over the years. Students were required to complete the problems and turn in printed copies of their solutions for Moninger and two Graduate Assistants (GAs) to grade by hand. "The way I had been running the course was outdated, and I wasn’t using any technology. I was spending way too much time doing administrative work (prepping assignments, grading, communicating instructions, etc.) and not enough time actually teaching," he says.

With Connect, Moninger now has the time to focus on teaching again and Connect helps him find effective ways to teach his students the material. "Connect isn’t just about having auto-graded assignments (although that’s a huge time-saver!)," he says. "Connect allows me to reduce the amount of time spent during lecture on conceptual material (since the students are exposed to more of that through SmartBook/LearnSmart) and gives me more time to devote to calculations and techniques, which is the content students struggle the most with."

Because Moninger requires his students to complete the SmartBook/LearnSmart assignment prior to class, lectures are no longer "a foreign, quiet, dead zone." He says, "I can look into the classroom and see students `connecting the dots’ with what I’m presenting and what they read the day before. They are more confident to participate when I ask questions because they have already answered many of the questions in the SmartBook/LearnSmart assignments."

After implementing Connect, 47% of Moninger’s students earned A’s and B’s in his classes—a 6% increase in student success. Exam scores increased an average of 8% overall, and 24% more students passed the course.


The course grade is determined by the following:
15% Connect Homework
10% Connect SmartBook/LearnSmart
10% Quizzes (administered within Connect)
20% Exam 1 (administered within Connect)
20% Exam 2 (administered within Connect)
25% Final Exam (administered within Connect)

In the average week, students have three assignments:

  • SmartBook/LearnSmart over one chapter and due before lecture
  • Homework assignments with approximately 10 problems over a corresponding chapter covered in SmartBook/LearnSmart
  • Timed quiz (5 to 8 questions) at the end of the week covering the prior week’s SmartBook/LearnSmart and homework

Because students are exposed to the material prior to class, Moninger’s lecture format changed. "SmartBook/LearnSmart takes a lot of pressure off the lectures, so my lectures can be less intimidating to students and focus on calculations and techniques. It’s much easier to teach students content when they are slightly familiar with the concept," Moninger says.

Moninger considers SmartBook a student’s first exposure to a topic. He assigns the SmartBook/LearnSmart assignment and makes it due right before the class on which he lectures about that topic. "Otherwise," he says, "students wouldn’t actually read the textbook."

He uses Connect as the platform in which all other assignments are given. He says, "I use the deep integration with our campus LMS, so students don’t actually feel like they’re using Connect, but rather are accessing everything through the LMS course page."

His Connect homework assignments are designed to practice the calculation concepts he teaches in class, and he allows students to access the various learning aids within the assignment. His Connect quizzes are designed to test the concepts and calculations completed in the homework. All quizzes are timed, and most quizzes use question pools to maintain academic integrity. His Connect exams are in a style similar to the quizzes but are longer and have more problems to solve.

Moninger appreciates that Connect allows the instructor to easily adjust assignment settings, grade-syncs to Canvas seamlessly, and allows him to organize the LMS course page "perfectly" so that students don’t have to familiarize themselves with another online system. He says, "The ‘Ask my Teacher’ feature in homework also eliminates cumbersome emailing back and forth about homework questions with students."

Moninger uses the Connect Insight Dashboard to check his assignments. "There should be a positive linear relationship between the time spent on the assignment and the score. Otherwise, the assignment may be too easy or too hard," he says.

Results Achieved

Moninger’s goals were to see an increase in student participation and performance in his classes and to reduce the number of hours he spent with administrative tasks so he can focus more lecture time on calculations and techniques where students are challenged the most.

"Overall, grades have increased," Moninger says. "Without Connect, 41% of students received A’s and B’s. With Connect, that number increased to 47%! Connect and SmartBook/LearnSmart have drastically helped struggling students bring their grade up to a passing grade" (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Student pass rates have increased from 63% without Connect to 87% with Connect, a 24% improvement (Figure 2). Moninger says, "The pass rate has been one of the best improvements we’ve seen with Connect!"

Figure 2

Moninger attributes the students’ success rate to the various resources available in Connect and SmartBook/LearnSmart (such as practice quizzes, Insights, and automated grading that provides timely feedback on homework assignments) for students who are struggling.

Retention rates improved by 2% from 94% without Connect to 96% with Connect(Figure 3).

Figure 3

Without Connect, students scored an average of 73%, 55%, and 60% on Exams 1, 2, and 3. With Connect, students earned either the same average score or improved their scores by as much as 13% on average (Figure 4).

Figure 4

When averaged together, exam scores increased by 8% overall (Figure 5).

Figure 5

"This is a very interesting study between the classes with Connect versus without Connect because the Exams used between the classes were almost identical," Moninger says. "For Exam 1, students’ scores do not change much. However, looking at the results of Exam 2 and the Final Exam for the classes with Connect, there is substantial improvements in students’ scores and an increase to the average score."

Prior to Connect, two GAs graded student coursework exclusively, for ten hours a week each week. "That’s 20 hours, plus the time I spent helping the GAs and making adjustments, which was another maybe 2 to 3 hours each week," Moninger calculates (Figure 6) . "Now I no longer need GAs to help with grading because I do almost none myself!" With Connect, Moninger says he spends approximately two hours a week at most making corrections or adjustments to students’ grades.

Figure 6

His department appreciates the savings. Because most of the assignments are now automatically graded, 20 hours of Graduate Assistant time is available for other areas of the department, and Connect has allowed the department to offer this course online, which is a huge milestone for the department and the college.

Moninger is pleased that students have had a positive experience using Connect. "Students feel Connect is easy to use, provides several resources for them, and is a good value. Whereas, many traditional classrooms require a hard copy textbook that is barely used, Connect is priced well and is used extensively throughout the course."


Before Moninger implemented Connect, he faced a "quiet, dead zone" in lectures and spent too much time with administrative tasks like collecting problems for homework and grading. After implementing Connect and requiring that SmartBook/LearnSmart assignments be completed prior to the lecture in class, students participate more in class and lectures can focus on calculations and techniques. Students’ grades, retention rates, and pass rates have all improved.

Kyle Moninger

Kyle Moninger instructs the Quantitative Business Curriculum at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. He teaches and plans undergraduate courses in statistics and business calculus, serves on the Quantitative Business Curriculum committee, and manages graduate assistants and supplemental instructors. During the summer of 2016, he was a visiting instructor at Tianjin Polytechnic University in Tianjin, China, and has been a data scientist at Owens Corning in Toledo, Ohio, where he designed and implemented a corporate training program on business intelligence and analytics.

Connect is more than just online homework or an e-book. It’s a digital learning system that provides both students and instructors with necessary resources to be successful.
Kyle Moninger, Instructor
Reviewing topics for SmartBook/LearnSmart assignments due before classes is great because it makes the lectures easier to understand and less intimidating.
Bowling Green State student
I love using Connect! I have used MyLab, WebAssign, and Mindtap, and Connect is the best and most user-friendly.

Digital Product in Use: McGraw-Hill Connect® Business Statistics
LMS Integration: Canvas
Course Name: STAT 2110 – Elementary Statistical Methods I
Course Type: Face-to-Fast Lecture
Credit Hours: Three
Program in Use: Business Statistics in Practice, Using Data, Modeling, and Analytics by Bowerman / O’Connell / Murphree, 8e
Instructor Name: Kyle Moninger
Enrollment: 80 students per section; 2 sections; 400/year (university total)
Case Study Terms: Spring 2015 (without Connect); Spring 2016 (with Connect)

Instructor’s implementation goals:

  • Encourage students to read the chapter prior to class
  • Improve students’ grades
  • Save time on administrative tasks like giving quizzes and grading

Issues for instructor before using Connect:

  • Students were not reading assigned chapter material
  • Students were not engaged in the course material in a meaningful way
  • Lectures were a "quiet, dead zone"
  • Instructor needed a better way to manage quizzing and grading tasks

Benefits to instructor after using Connect:

  • More students read the course content prior to attending class
  • Participation in class discussion is no longer a "quiet, dead zone"
  • More students earn A’s and B’s in the course
  • Students get more value out of course materials used throughout semester
  • Reduced instructor hours spent on quizzing and grading tasks
  • Fewer department resource hours spent on grading
  • Integrates into Canvas so students and instructors have a seamless experience
  • Easy to create assignments by selecting questions online through Connect sort by various filters, and schedule an auto-graded assignment

Course Description:

This course teaches: elementary probability, random variables, probability distributions, sampling, descriptive statistics, sampling distributions, and estimation.

Institution Profile:

Founded in 1910 as a teacher-training institution, Bowling Green State University is a public research university that offers over 200 undergraduate programs in addition to masters and doctoral degrees through eight academic colleges. Over 17,000 students attend BGSU and can participate in over 300 student organizations.