Case Study: Connect® Economics - Mt. Hood Community College

Mt. Hood Community College

Digital Product in Use:

McGraw-Hill Connect® Master: Economics

LMS Integration:


Program in Use:

Connect Master: Economics by Asarta/Butters

Course Name:

EC 201 Principles of Economics I (Microeconomics) and EC 202 Principles of Economics II (Macroeconomics)

Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Instructor Name:

Peter Cunningham


35 students per section; 4 sections; 500 year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Fall 2014 (textbook without Connect Master) and Fall 2015 (with Connect Master only)

Implementing Connect Master Resulted in a 100% Retention Rate, a 100% Pass Rate, and Facilitated a Flipped Classroom Teaching Model

By using Connect Master: Economics, Professor Peter Cunningham experienced a 100% retention rate, a 100% passing rate, and a 73% active participation rate in assignments for his over 100 students divided across four sections. Connect Master and the flipped classroom teaching model encourages students to engage in the coursework outside of class so that class discussions can encompass more than the basics. "I can see the light bulbs going off in the flipped classroom when students debate the pros and cons of a higher minimum wage or how to best solve the Greek economic crisis. It is very exciting for me as a professor to see this transformation in students as they eagerly sign up for higher level economic courses and decide to major in economics."

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

30% – Connect Master weekly homework assignments
25% – Midterm administered in Connect Master
25% – Final administered in Connect Master
20% – Participation

Within Connect Master, Cunningham assigns one LearnSmart Achieve® module per week. LearnSmart Achieve identifies the concepts that each student does and does not understand. The students then work through a personalized plan with learning resources to improve their knowledge before class. He carefully assigns the topics in each module with an average time of completion approximately 2-3 hours. The LearnSmart Achieve module is due before they attempt the question bank assignment which includes videos with built-in assessment and graphing exercises. These assignments are due before classroom discussion allowing for active participation and teaching with the flipped classroom teaching model.

To help students succeed, Cunningham asks a student prior to the midterm exam to demonstrate the Recharge feature in LearnSmart Achieve during class so that other students learn how to prepare for the exam. The Recharge feature tracks what they are most likely to forget and provides an individualized plan for review.

Cunningham utilizes the Connect Master At-Risk report each week to alert students who are not investing the time necessary to be successful. "At-Risk reports allow me to track progress with students who are not actively participating so I can intervene before the midterm or final. This is not possible in a traditional classroom without Connect Master." He also reviews weekly the Category Analysis report which shows student progress on each of the six course objectives. "I have linked the course objectives to the results of the midterm, the final, and weekly homework assignments to demonstrate that each student who completes the course successfully has achieved the desired learning outcomes. Our accreditation team is very impressed with this report in Connect Master!"

"For the first time in my 30 year teaching career, all of my 100+ students in 4 separate classes have passed! By using the At-Risk report available in Connect, I was able to alert students to ramp up their commitment to the course or risk failure. In most classes, I saw a 73% active participation rate in terms of students investing 8 or more hours per week in studying course work in advance of the classroom discussion. Because students prepared for class, I was able to effectively flip the classroom and add innovative up-to-the-minute discussions about what was happening in the global economy"

– Peter Cunningham

Professor Cunningham believes the best way to get students engaged at the onset of the course is to provide them with a clear explanation (in the syllabus and during the first class) of how important it is to register with Connect Master. To illustrate how to use the program effectively, he shows the Getting Started with Connect Master video (which explains LearnSmart Achieve), connects via the specific course’s URL to show navigation, and explains the importance of completing the assignments before the next class discussion. He also goes through some of the exercises and stresses the importance of spending at least eight hours a week in Connect Master.

Results Achieved

Since using Connect Master, Cunningham has achieved a 100% retention rate. Prior to implementing Connect Master across all of his sections, he lost an average of 10% of his students in Fall 2014 (Figure 1).

One of Cunningham’s students missed the first several weeks of class. Cunningham was able to sit down with the student in week four and give the student a series of extensions on the homework. By the midterm, the student had mastered the content and remained on track the rest of the term. "In a traditional class," Cunningham says, "the student would have had to drop the course, but this student will complete the course now successfully given the flexibility of Connect that allows students to complete the work around their hectic schedules."

Cunningham was also able to improve his students’ pass rate as well. During the Fall 2014 semester, 5 students out of 125 (4%) failed the course. During Fall 2015, 100% of his students passed the course. (Figure 2).

Cunningham says, "All of my 150 students are passing their course this term due to the assistance of Connect Master. The use of Connect Master in assisting more students to successfully complete their courses and degrees is a model for our college."

Connect Master also reduces grading time. Before Connect Master, Cunningham spent 40 hours a week grading narrative essay type questions for each of the four classes he teaches a term. With Connect Master, grading is automatic after the initial investment of setting up the course. Cunningham says, "I spend zero time grading now." (Figure 3).

Instructor’s implementation goals:

  • Engage his students in Economics concepts and discussions

  • Retain 100% of his students

Issues for instructor before using Connect:

  • Unable to monitor student progress through his courses until the midterm

  • Would have to flunk or lose students who had fallen behind in his courses by midterm

Benefits to instructor after using Connect:

  • Able to bring in more in-depth class discussion topics

  • Less time spent grading

  • Able to monitor student progress by reviewing Connect reports prior to the midterm

  • Retain and pass students with a deeper-level understanding of Economics

  • Recruit more students to major in Economics

Course Description:

Principles of Economics I (Microeconomics) examines the market system including essentials of demand and supply analysis, perfectly competitive products and labor markets, international trade and its obstacles, the application of microeconomics theory to public policy directed by the government agencies and current social issues with great emphasis on the Great Recession of 2008-2009 that caused lots of pain.

Principles of Economics II (Macroeconomics) explores the factors affecting the level of national income, the essentials of money and banking, the role of government expenditure and taxation in achieving economic stability and growth, and international monetary issues including exchange rates and the balance of payments.

Institution Profile

Mt. Hood Community College, located in Gresham, Oregon (just outside of Portland), offers over 120 academic programs to approximately 33,000 students. MHCC offers transfer possibilities to four-year colleges and study abroad opportunities.

Instead, Cunningham uses the time to research data on the global economy so the class discussions are “cutting edge and interesting”. Connect Master gives instructors the opportunity to have higher level discussions with the students.

"The future of education is online. I wanted to get ahead of that curve and to give my students the opportunity to benefit from a flipped classroom."


Cunningham was able to monitor students’ progress like never before and intervene weekly to make sure students knew they had to work harder immediately if they were to be successful. Cunningham reports that on average, 73% of his students did the coursework in advance of the class. As a result, he was able to effectively flip his classrooms so that the students could participate in more engaging and in-depth classroom discussions. Overall, 100% of his students stayed in the course and 100% of his students passed the course.