Case Study: Finance - University of Central Florida

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Finance

Course Name:

FIN 6406 Strategic Financial Management

Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Corporate Finance by Ross, Westerfield, and Jaffe, 10e

Instructor Name:

Dr. Melissa B. Frye


40 students/spring (instructor total)

250 students/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Spring 2013 and Spring 2014

“My students said they became better readers because SmartBook forced them to pay attention and understand what they were reading. Also, they said they gained an understanding of how the topics all fit together to see the big picture.”

-Dr. Melissa B. Frye

Connect and SmartBook Improved Student Engagement, Student Performance and Student Evaluations in MBA Class

Dr. Frye had been using Connect Finance in her undergraduate finance classes; based on her students’ success with Connect, she decided to implement Connect in her graduate-level MBA finance classes. “I had been using Connect for years with my undergraduate students but I was hesitant to use it with MBA students. This past semester, I decided to try both Connect and SmartBook with my MBA class. I had seen such benefits to my undergraduate students that I was finally convinced that my MBA students would benefit as well.”

Institution Profile

University of Central Florida is a four-year institution based in Orlando, FL. UCF comprises 12 colleges, which offer 210 degree programs to over 60,000 students from the U.S. and abroad. The country’s second-largest university, UCF has 13 satellite campuses outside of its Orlando campus.


Course Description:

Strategic Financial Management gives students a critical foundation in the theory and practice of corporate finance, both of which are critical to making major corporate financial management decisions. Topics include risk and return concepts, cash flow analysis, time value of money concepts, capital budgeting, as well as short- and long-term financial management.

Course Grade

The course grade is determined by the following:
20% Connect (15% Homework, 5% SmartBook);
30% Course Project;
25% Midterm exam;
25% Final Exam

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Dr. Frye assigns the chapter SmartBook module before class (set at an average of 30 minutes to complete) and the Connect homework assignment covered in the lecture is due afterwards. For Frye, use of Connect with her MBA students is a unique opportunity to create an environment where students are equally prepared. Says Frye, “In my MBA classes, the students have very different backgrounds. Connect helps level that playing field. I also like that I can give students credit for completing homework assignments.”

Frye found SmartBook reports especially useful, particularly Progress Overview, Student Details, Missed Questions and Most Challenging Learning Objectives. The reports enabled her to “…see what questions [students] are missing, so I can talk about them in class.”

Results Achieved

After implementing Connect, Frye saw her students’ engagement with the material grow markedly. She says, “Students completed homework with a better understanding of the material. Questions asked in class were at a higher level.”

Furthermore, there was a big improvement in student performance, as was reflected in the grade distribution in the course (Figure 1), with the number of As increasing by 12 after she implemented Connect. Another immediate improvement was evident in Midterm exam grades (Figure 2), with average scores up 4.5 points

Frye was particularly pleased about changes in student evaluations. She reveals, “My student evaluations increased dramatically. I think this was a result of the students actually understanding the material better.”

“Connect and SmartBook are excellent tools to enhance learning at the undergraduate and graduate level.”


Based on positive results Connect produced for her undergraduate students, Dr. Frye is pleased with expanded use of Connect with her MBA course. Although she was initially hesitant, the positive outcomes she has seen for her graduate students have cemented Frye’s commitment to using Connect Finance. She says, “Connect and SmartBook should not be viewed as only for undergraduate classes,” because these two products, “are valuable tools for even graduate level classes. The graduate students really embraced the aid to learning.”