Case Study: Connect Economics - Johnson County Community College

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Economics

Course Name:


Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Macroeconomics by McConnell, Brue and Flynn, 18e

Instructor Name:

Sheryl Hadley


252/year (instructor total)

1,212/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Spring 2010

Some of the Connect features I like best are the ability to post outside reading articles using the bookmark or newsfeed tool on the Connect homepage. This encourages my students to learn beyond the textbook and become involved in what’s happening in the world. It’s a great conversation starter! The only downside was that I didn’t use Connect in all of my classes. I plan to next semester!

-Professor Sheryl Hadley

Digital Course Solution Improves Student Success

Professor and Department Chair Sheryl Hadley was concerned that exam scores in her Tuesday/Thursday classes were lower than in her Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes, although her lectures and course requirements were the same. She decided to pilot a program using Connect® Economics to give Tuesday/ Thursday students additional engagement with course content over their long weekends. She was so pleased with the results of the pilot that she’s using Connect Economics in all of her classes—both Macroeconomics and Microeconomics—this semester.

Institution Profile

A public, two-year institution, Johnson County Community College enrolls over 20,000 students annually at its campus in Overland Park, Kansas. Offering more than 50 two-year degrees and certificate programs, JCCC is the state’s third largest institution of higher education.


Course Description:

Macroeconomics is a one-semester course that uses a lecture course model to teach students basic macroeconomic concepts, including the supply of and demand for products, national income determination, money and banking, and monetary and fiscal policy. The average class size for this course is 32 students.

Course Grade:

  • 60% of the final grade based on six exams
  • 27% of the final grade based on reading assignments and in-class participation
  • 15% of the final grade based on 12 Connect Economics assignments
  • Extra credit based on additional assignments provided through the Connect Economics platform

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Professor Hadley felt sure that the grades in her Tuesday/Thursday classes were lower than grades in her Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes because the students lost their connection with course content over the four days between a Thursday class and the next class on the following Tuesday. “I was hoping that the extra connection to the class between Thursday and Tuesday would help,” she reports, “so I used the Connect platform as a homework manager and had students complete a homework assignment each week.”

Results Achieved

Professor Hadley’s problem with grade discrepancies among course sections was solved with Connect Economics (see Figure 1). “I was impressed!” she says. “On the very first exam, students in the Tuesday/Thursday class scored an average of 7% higher than students in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday class!”

At the end of the semester, Professor Hadley found that not only did the Tuesday/Thursday exam scores rise to the level of the Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes, they surpassed them by margins of as many as 8.4 points. “I didn’t modify what I did in the classroom. I simply added the Connect Economics homework assignments to help the Tuesday/Thursday class stay connected through the weekend.”

Professor Hadley notes that her students did not “blow off” their homework assignments in Connect Economics. Even though students were allowed to drop two of the assignments, almost every single assignment was completed by every single student. “I heard students ask others for help,” Hadley says, “so I know they were engaging with their out-of-class questions.”

Hadley is especially impressed by the Connect Economics features that allowed her to develop Web assignments requiring students to bring in articles and perform out-of-class research. These assignments, she says, promoted deep engagement and lively discussions in class. She also enjoys not having to manually grade all of her student’s assignments anymore. “It’s money saving to the student, time saving for the professor, and if I were delivering this as an online course, I’m sure it would add flexibility to the schedule.”

Professor Hadley is also looking to use Connect Economics with new course types. “We are considering hybrid classes, and I know that Connect will be a huge help in delivering the hybrid course.”

“From a student’s perspective, Connect did just what the name of the program implies: It keeps the student connected with the material being taught in the textbook and in the classroom. I felt that I learned the material more effectively, and had less study time for exams using Connect. The weekly assignments in Connect served to keep me engaged with the economics material much more than the traditional homework assignments in the class conducted without Connect. I especially liked the instant feedback given on quizzes --knowing how I did right after I answered a question served to reinforce the learning for me. I found the Connect system easy to understand, and the online site was easy to navigate.

Overall, I found the Connect system to be a valuable addition to the course. I feel that I learned the material in the course quicker, retained the information longer, and felt better prepared for unit exams because of the Connect system.”

- Robert L. Jones, M.A.Ed. Student, Johnson County Community College

“I truly believe my students are more prepared for their exams because of the assignments they have to complete for me.”

“I love how I’m able to reinforce what I teach using the Connect questions and activities that I set up. It’s very flexible and easy to use. I have found it even easier to use the second time around!”

“Connect is a great product that increases student engagement and exam scores, and lowers the time I have to spend grading homework!”

- Professor Sheryl Hadley


Professor Hadley found that Connect Economics increased student engagement and improved student performance on exams and assignments. “I was so impressed by the increase in student exam scores in my pilot project that I’ve adopted it in all of my macroeconomics courses,” Hadley says. She would recommend Connect to other faculty as well.