Case Study: Communication - College of Dupage

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Communication

Course Name:

Speech 1100 - Fundamentals of Speech

Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Experience Communication by Jeffrey Child and Judy Pearson

Instructor Name:

Lauren Morgan


22/term (instructor total)

3000/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Fall 2013 (without Connect/SmartBook)

Spring 2014 (with Connect)

“After two semesters using Connect LearnSmart, every student passed my class. LearnSmart helped students learn key concepts that made them better able to complete speech assignments successfully.”

-Professor Lauren Morgan

McGraw-Hill Connect Improves Student Engagement and Class Grades

Teaching public speaking is a very active learning experience. Lectures are often ineffective for the subject. Connect has enabled Professor Morgan to ‘flip’ her classroom and turn it more into a lab environment. There is now more time in class for students to practice their communication skills and engage in the subject matter. As a result, after two semesters of using Connect there was a significant drop in student’s who received D’s and F’s and an increase in students who received A’s, B’s and C’s.

Institution Profile

College of DuPage is a two-year community college in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The college also owns and operates facilities in the Illinois communities of Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Naperville, West Chicago, and Westmont. The college serves students residing in Illinois’ Community College District 502, which is most of DuPage County and parts of Cook County and Will County.

“Using Connect has enabled me to develop more robust assignments and engage students in higher order thinking (application, analysis, synthesis). Not only has this ‘flip’ made teaching more interesting and fun for me, my students are much more engaged in their own learning. Since so much educational research indicates that ‘lecture’ is a very ineffective form of teaching, I’m glad not to rely on that technique for teaching my students.”


Course Description:

Speech 1100 helps students improve their communication competence by improving their knowledge, skills and motivation in the human communication process in a variety of contexts. Speech 1100 is designed developmentally to lead students from the most basic knowledge and skills through increasingly complex ones to become an actively engaged communicator.

Course Grade:

  • 29% Assignments including Connect/ LearnSmart
  • 15% Commemorative (Narrative Speech)
  • 23% Cultural Artifact (Informative Speech)
  • 33% Persuasion (Persuasive Speech)

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Professor Morgan was tired of using inferior digital products. She found existing products required extra grading work and most were not as fully developed as Connect. Her husband, also a Communication Studies Professor, had begun using Connect and improved his efficiency and student success. She decided she wanted the same success in her course.

She was immediately able to ‘flip’ her classroom and make it more of a lab environment. “I used LearnSmart and SmartBook as a way to encourage reading of the text and check on students reading process,” says Professor Morgan. “This made it possible for me to spend more time engaging students in activities instead of lecturing on materials they should have read.” She also assigned LearnSmart as a major assignment to reinforce its importance. In this model, responsibility for learning has shifted from the teacher to the students - freeing up time for Professor Morgan to apply concepts they have learned in their reading.

Implementation of a ‘Discussion Host’ assignment through LearnSmart has been crucial to Professor Morgan’s efforts. The assignment teaches students how to lead discussions on chapters. This gives them freedom to explore concepts they find relevant and to engage the classmates in other concepts. “Students are also more apt to address the ‘muddiest points’ without me determining what should be addressed,” she adds.

Assignments vary depending on what stage of the speech process students are engaged. For LearnSmart, she usually sets the assignment for a completion time of 20 minutes. Other assignments include gathering topics for speeches, speech proposals, draft/ final works cited pages, draft/final outlines, peer review/feedback on speeches, and self-analysis of performances.

The response from her students has been overwhelmingly positive. Students consistently report that LearnSmart has helped them both with reading the textbook and comprehension. The number of students who admitted reading their textbook has also pleasantly surprised Professor Morgan. Several have written to her “this is the first textbook I’m actually reading!”

“Students are holistically viewing public speaking as a part of the development of their communication competence,” says Morgan. “In fact, I think my approach to teaching the course is more holistic.”

There are many more benefits too since she implemented Connect. “I spend much less time preparing for ‘lecture’ as I rarely lecture at all,” says Morgan. She also spends much less time grading. This has allowed her more time to develop and critique intricate assignments. Additionally, the reports she gets from Connect allow her to more readily determine individual students’ progress and identify those at-risk. Professor Morgan adds, “Connect is an outstanding tool for learners living in a digital age.”

Results Achieved

Data from 4 sections in the Fall of 2013 was compared to 4 sections in the Spring of 2014 after Connect was implemented. Connect proved to be very beneficial. There was a 12% increase in students who achieved A’s, B’s or C’s.

More students succeeded in Professor Morgan’s class after she implemented Connect. In 2013, 25% of her students received a D or F. In 2014, that number greatly improved. Only 11% of students received a D or F – a 14% decrease.

“Pass rates in my classes have improved. I believe it is because students better understand key concepts and come to class prepared. This has enabled more class time for activities that helped students prepare for speeches.”


Professor Morgan is very happy with Connect and is really impressed by the positive impact it has made in her course. Grades have gotten better and pass rates have greatly improved. As a result, Connect is a major factor for future plans in the classroom. “I’m planning to organize my classes into structured units using a weekly section from LearnSmart followed by a quiz.” With the extra time saved, she plans to implement new features such as Connect SpeechCapture, an online video tool that allows students to upload their speech assignments for peer review and instructor evaluation.