Case Study: Lifespan - University of South Carolina

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Lifespan

Course Name:

Survey of Developmental Psychology

Course Type:

Hybrid (3 credit hours of in-class lecture and online learning tools)

Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Lifespan Development by Santrock, 13e

Instructor Name:

Kathleen Kirasic


320/year (instructor total)

800/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Spring 2011

Every aspect of my course has improved with the introduction of Connect. Attendance has increased significantly, and I have been able to take the time to find contemporary examples of the developmental processes under consideration.

-Professor Kathleen Kirasic

Digital Course Solution Improves Student Success and Increases Instructor Efficiency

Professor Kirasic needed an effective online learning solution to help her deliver an engaging learning experience outside of the classroom for her blended course. She implemented Connect Lifespan and found that the LearnSmart adaptive learning modules provided students with an interactive, effective method of acquiring the core course knowledge needed to be successful. As a result, students came to the monthly lectures well prepared on the course material, and Professor Kirasic was able to spend less time on basic concepts and make her lectures much more current and applied. With this new model of instruction, Kirasic saw improved student performance and increases in both course completion and passing rates.

Institution Profile

The University of South Carolina has 324 degree programs in 14 degree granting colleges and schools. The campus serves 30,000 students annually.


Course Description:

Survey of Developmental Psychology is designed to provide an introduction to all basic stages of the human lifespan. The physical, cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of development are covered for each stage.

Course Grade:

  • 40% of the final grade based on 20 quizzes assigned withing Connect Lifespan
  • 30% of the final grade based on 20 chapter pre-tests and modules within McGraw-Hill LearnSmart™, the adaptive assessment tool within Connect
  • 30% of the final grade based on three essay exams assigned withing Connect Lifespan

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Professor Kirasic teaches a blended course, using Connect to deliver all learning and assessment activities. She creates three assignments for each chapter - the chapter’s LearnSmart module, a pre-test, and a quiz. She sets deadlines throughout the term for LearnSmart module completion, and encourages her students to continue to use them after the due date to prepare for exams. The pre-tests contain multiple choice and short answer questions, and are designed to help the student review the material in the chapter and prepare for the quiz.

To further support the learning process, Professor Kirasic assigns students to watch the “Milestones of Child Development” videos, which show real children acquiring developmental skills, and the “Milestones: Transitions” videos, which introduce a series of people, from teenagers to adults, to hear their perspective on changes that occur throughout the rest of the lifespan.

Professor Kirasic also gives three highlight lectures which consist of two mandatory class meetings each month during the term. These lectures are focused on helping students make the leap from “book learning” to the application of the knowledge. “Connect Lifespan gives me the latitude to pursue other applied topics,” she says. Students are then given essay exams, assigned through Connect, that require them to evaluate a real-world event or scenario and apply the information that they have learned. As long as students meet final deadlines for assignments and exams, Professor Kirasic allows them to complete course requirements at their own pace. She advises them to concentrate their efforts in reading each of the assigned chapters and completing the LearnSmart activities.

Results Achieved

Professor Kirasic found Connect Lifespan both easy to use and easy to set up. “I put together a very good class in less than a week using Connect,” she says. She also found that Connect enabled her to focus on concept application in the classroom. “I am less concerned about emphasizing the basics, and more concerned about teaching the students to think

outside of the textbook and into the world. My lectures are aimed at becoming more applied and tied to current news items.” Professor Kirasic’s use of Connect Lifespan in her blended course also yielded remarkable results in terms of student performance, more than doubling the number of A’s and substantially diminishing the number of F’s that students received (see Figure 1).

She has also seen a significant improvement in both pass rates (see Figure 2) and course completion rates (see Figure 3). “Clearly, more students received a passing grade with Connect,” she notes. “I am confident that the grades accurately reflect their increased ability to apply learned material.”


Professor Kirasic is very happy with Connect Lifespan and would recommend it to other faculty. Her students are taking more personal responsibility for their own performance, and are coming to class better prepared. Not only that, but through the Connect reports, she can see clear measures of performance and identify students requiring intervention. As she moves forward, she plans to incorporate more of the prepared chapter videos into her course. She says, “There is nothing but Connect in my future!”