Case Study: Marketing - San Diego State University

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Marketing

Course Name:

Principles of Marketing

Course Type:

Hybrid (3 hours/week lecture & online)

Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Marketing by Grewal and Levy, 2e

Instructor Name:

Lois Bitner Olson


960/year (instructor total)

1,400/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Spring 2010

“I really like Connect Marketing! It really does make life with 960 students each year a lot easier.”

Connect Marketing is much more user-friendly than the course management system I had been using. It’s like using an Apple instead of a PC.”

-Professor Lois Bitner Olson

Digital Course Solution Improves Student Success and Increases Instructor Efficiency

Professor Lois Bitner Olson had been using a course management system to assign exercises that supported her lectures, but she was frustrated by the amount of time she was spending writing assignments and solving technical problems. She needed a solution that would help students learn to apply the marketing concepts she was teaching, and free her of time spent on solving technical glitches. Connect® Marketing not only addressed both of these needs, but also increased student final average grades by 5-7 points.

Institution Profile

With 33,000 students, San Diego State University is the largest university in San Diego and the third largest in the state. Part of the California State University System, it is classified Doctoral/Research University-Intensive, offering 84 bachelor’s degrees, 76 master’s degrees,16 doctoral degrees, and 78 minors in seven colleges.


Course Description:

Principles of Marketing is a one-semester, introductory marketing course that uses a three-hour lecture course model with an option for students to use the learning tools within Connect Marketing. The course focuses on application of key marketing concepts and understanding how marketing decisions are influenced. Class size is large, with 230 students per section.

Course Grade:

Option A

  • 75% of the final grade based on three exams
  • 16% of the final grade based on quizzes within Connect Marketing
  • 11% of the final grade based on other online assignments
  • 4% of the final grade based on extra credit experiments
  • 2% of the final grade based on front row seating

Option B

  • 102% of the final grade based on three exams
  • 4% of the final grade based on extra credit experiments
  • 2% of the final grade based on front row seating

*Students can earn a maximum total of 108 points.

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Professor Olson lectured on marketing concepts in class, but she knew that her students needed additional practice on their own to fully understand the application of the concepts. She had been designing assignments in a course management system, but they were taking a good deal of her time to write and grade. In addition, she spent a significant amount of time troubleshooting technical problems for her students. She needed a way to continue to provide quality assignments, but in a less time-consuming way.

Professor Olson used the Instructor Library in Connect Marketing to create and deliver digital content, including interactive exercises and assignments, in order to address three primary objectives:

  1. Improve student academic performance

  2. Reduce time spent grading and solving technical problems

  3. Increase student engagement

She offered two grading options to her students: one option based on completion of Connect Marketing quizzes and other online assignments in addition to exam grades and extra credit experiments, and the other option based only on exam grades and extra credit experiments. Only nine students chose the second option, but after the first exam, six of the nine began completing the Connect Marketing quizzes, even though the quizzes had no impact on their grades.

Results Achieved

Based on final grade averages, students who used Connect Marketing in the Spring 2010 term scored as many as 5 points higher on final grade averages than students in previous classes who did not use the program.

In a subsequent course, taught fully online in Summer 2010, 60 of Professor Olson’s students using Connect Marketing scored as many as 6-7 points higher on final grade averages than students in previous online courses who did not use the program (see Figure 1). “The grades were substantially better,” Olson observes, “and the recorded lectures were the same as in the two previous summers.”

Professor Olson attributes this increase in student success to several factors. First, most of the students like using the technology. “They appreciate that faculty, even old ones like me, have moved into the digital age,” she says.

Student learning styles have changed—they don’t read and learn in the linear fashion that many instructors are accustomed to, so the way that Connect Marketing delivers quizzes and other practice materials appeals to them. In addition, Olson was able to assign more online exercises designed to support class material. Through the reporting feature, she was able to measure which topics students were mastering and which they were not, a valuable feature in terms of re-tooling lectures and assignments.

In addition to increasing student success, Professor Olson reduced the amount of time she was spending on assignment preparation and grading by more than 88%, from four and a half hours a week to just half an hour. “The hours of grading and dealing with student complaints and nitty-gritty issues has an effect of making the time saved seem like a lot more than just three hours,” she says. All of this recovered time allows her to devote attention to her lectures, which she redesigns yearly, and to focus on providing quality class time for her students.

Professor Olson was initially surprised by how often she found herself using the eBook in Connect Marketing. “I travel a lot,” she says, “and often don’t want to drag the heavy textbook along.” Now she travels with all of her course materials easily accessible at all times in her laptop. Professor Olson’s students also tell her that they appreciate the eBook, which is more affordable than hard-copy textbooks. Students who completed all of the assignments and have used additional study tools in Connect Marketing also tell her that they are more comfortable with the course material. “Probably 60% have been more involved,” she reports. “They like the book and the exercises. They walk away knowing the concepts, not just learning them for the test.”

“It is very hard to teach application of concepts. I do that in class and students can follow along, but they cannot actually make the application themselves. The Connect Marketing online exercises, drag and drop, video cases, etc. do a pretty good job of getting students to learn how to apply concepts. That was what first attracted me.”

“It does take a little time to learn, like any new program, although far less time than most. BUT it is an investment that pays off big time if you invest the time and play with it.”

“The written assignments have both Connect questions and an essay. The graduate assistants and I have to open and grade each essay, but Connect is very systematic, and we move through 234 for each class. The score goes right into the gradebook.”

- Professor Lois Bitner Olson


Professor Olson has used Connect Marketing in four sections of her Principles of Marketing course. Based on the ease of providing quality assignments and other content review, as well as the increase in student academic performance, she recommends Connect Marketing to her colleagues teaching Principles of Marketing and Integrated Marketing Communications at SDSU. “Connect has made my life easier,” Professor Olson says, “and my students are doing better.”