Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

Student Pass Rates Increase by 12% with Connect, SmartBook® and Inclusive Access

Instructor Laura Drake and her department learned that students weren’t buying or reading the textbook assigned for the course and wanted to provide students with a way to read and study course material prior to lecture. Drake also wanted her students to better engage with the material and with the course.

By using Connect and SmartBook, an adaptive reading experience, the department was able to deliver the required digital course materials to students as part of their tuition allowing for all students to have everything they need from day one - online homework, ebook and self-study materials. Students also have the choice to purchase the Print on Demand textbook at the bookstore. By having the course materials included in the cost of tuition, the fee is significantly lower. "Students save on the cost of the course materials, even if they buy both Connect access and a Print on Demand textbook," says Drake.

100% of my students who regularly complete SmartBook pass the class!
Laura L. Drake


Course grade is determined by the following:
14% – Quizzes (administered within Connect)
20% – Connect and Blackboard platform homework
22% – Tests (administered within Connect)
25% – In-Class Assignments and Presentations
14% – Final Exam
5% – Attendance / Participation

The Connect Interactive Applications homework Drake assigns for each chapter are application-focused activities that stimulate critical thinking and reinforce key concepts. Students apply what they’ve learned and receive immediate feedback, while Drake can monitor student progress in real-time. Students benefit from immediate feedback on their work, and Drake can monitor student progress. "The students find the Interactive Applications very helpful, and though some weeks we have alternate assignments we do in the classroom or on Blackboard, students have the opportunity to do the Connect homework for no credit, and many do it!" says Drake.

Drake assigns quizzes and a test for each chapter. Last semester, students had one attempt to take the timed quizzes; however, this semester students will have two attempts. "The questions won’t necessarily repeat," Drake says, "so I’m not sure students will have an advantage, but I think the students will feel significantly less stress if they know they have a second chance." Drake appreciates that Connect is flexible and adaptable to use.

Drake generally gives students 15 minutes for every 10 questions on the quizzes. She times them so that the students know they won’t have the time to look up the answer to each question. Instead, students should read and study the textbook prior to taking the quizzes.

Tests are 55 questions for 50 points and she doesn’t time the tests. Students have one week to take the tests, so that they do have the time to look up each question.

The final exam is in class and is closed book. "The class is predicated on the concept of continuous review of the material," Drake says. "SmartBook gets students to read the material before lecture, then we lecture, students review for the quiz, and review the material again for the test, and then for the final. Hopefully, students have seen the material at least four times before taking the final."

Drake encourages students to go back and use SmartBook as a study tool when reviewing for the tests and final. "I tell the students that if they can get 10 questions in a row right, they are probably ready for the quiz," says Drake.

Drake appreciates the ease of use for her students due to the integration with her campus learning management system. "Because Connect launches from Blackboard, we are able to have all of the assignments in one location – one sub folder per week, which allows students to see what is due that week," says Drake.

Results Achieved

Pass rates increased by 12%, comparing Spring 2014 to Spring 2016, after incorporating Connect with the Inclusive Access model.

Business Law Drake Figure 1

100% of students now have course materials as a result of the course materials being included in the cost of tuition.

Business Law Drake Figure 2
Every student who has an A completed nearly all of the SmartBook assignments.


Drake is pleased with her student’s success, she affirms, "Because of SmartBook , more of my students have read the textbook when they attend class and have some understanding of the material." But the biggest bonus for Drake is how classroom discussions have become more engaging and meaningful with almost all students participating. Drake and her colleagues intend to keep using Connect.

Laura L. Drake

Laura L. Drake has been the Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Business Law Instructor since 2009, and she is now the Program Chair for the newly added Paralegal Program. Drake is an attorney licensed to practice in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, and she is a graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington. While attending law school at the University of Minnesota, she was an extern to the Honorable Judge Gregory F. Kishel, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, District of Minnesota. Drake volunteers on several local and state board of directors for various nonprofit educational and philanthropic organizations and has been recognized for her leadership in these organizations. Drake has a background in Bankruptcy, Real Estate, Creditor Law and Special Needs Trust and Estate Planning and speaks regularly on Medicaid, Guardianship and Special Needs Trusts in Ohio and Kentucky.

Digital Product in Use: Connect® Business Law
LMS Integration: Blackboard
Course Name: LAW 101 – Business Law
Course Type: Face-to-Face Lecture
Credit Hours: Three
Program in Use: Dynamic Business Law (with Connect) by Nancy Kubasek, et al., 3rd edition
Instructor Name: Laura L. Drake
Enrollment: 30 students per section; 5 or more sections; 300 – 325 year (university total)
Case Study Terms: Spring 2017

Drake sets the SmartBook assignments to 20 minutes and due prior to the first day the material is covered in class. Drake uses the Practice Quiz and Missed Questions reports to see where she can help students understand the material. She encourages her students to use the Highlight and Notes section in the ebook, and she’s working on building up her own Highlight and Notes sections for the students to use when they are reading.

Instructor's implementation goals:

  • Provide students with the opportunity to read the material prior to class
  • Create ways for the students to engage with the material repeatedly
  • Improve student outcomes
  • Make students’ grades and feedback available immediately
  • Spend less time grading and more time teaching

Benefits to instructor after using Connect:

  • Improved lecture environment because students have to read the chapter prior to class and have a better understanding of the concepts which leads to more students contributing in class and being able to apply the information
  • Provide several opportunities for students to engage in the material prior to the class final so students have learned the course learning objectives
  • Access to reports that show where students are struggling to shape lecture content based class needs
  • Lower cost for students

Course Description:

A course on the legal environment in which businesses operate.

Institution Profile:

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College is a public, two-year college and offers more than 100 associate degree programs and certificates in Business Technologies, Health and Public Safety, Engineering and Information Technologies, and Humanities and Science. Approximately 10,000 students attend classes on its four campuses; more courses are available online and some degrees and certificate programs are available entirely online.