Case Study: Microbiology - St. Louis Community College of Forest Park

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Microbiology

Course Name:

General Microbiology

Course Type:

Lecture and Lab

Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Foundations in Microbiology by Talaro and Chess

Instructor Name:

Angela NewMyer


20/term (instructor total)

300/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Spring 2010 (without Connect/LearnSmart)

Spring 2014 (with Connect)

“I believe the use of the SmartBook and Connect allow for the subject matter to be more approachable by the students.” “I believe the Connect results speak for themselves when it comes to pass rates and test scores.”

-Professor Angela NewMyer

McGraw-Hill Connect Increases Retention Rates and Improves Student Success

Professor NewMyer needed a way to improve student comprehension. Connect attracted her because of its animations and interactive assignments. These tools increased student engagement and retention of the information. Students now come to class with a better understanding of materials and less questions, allowing her more time to lecture. As a result, pass rates have improved by 30%.

Institution Profile

St. Louis Community College (STLCC) is a two-year college supported by the Junior College District of St. Louis City, Missouri servicing 718 sq. miles around St. Louis County. The college has four campuses that serve over 80,000 students throughout its system and offers 15 college-transfer options with more than 100 career programs.

Connect has helped me increase pass rates and retention rates. By increasing the exposure to the subject matter I increase the level of understanding. Overall this results in higher grades and more passing students.”


Course Description:

Introduction to microbes with emphasis on morphology, culture techniques and biochemical activities of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Consideration of human disease producing organisms with regard to their infection and resistance.

Course Grade:

  • 40% of the final grade based on tests
  • 20% of the final grade based on quizzes
  • 15% of the final grade based on final exam
  • 5% of the final grade based on lab network
  • 5% of the final grade based on Connect Homework
  • 5% of the final grade based on a paper
  • 10% of the final grade based on lab practicals

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Professor NewMyer faced a very common educational challenge - the comprehension and retention of information. She used LearnSmart and SmartBook to augment her lectures and what is covered in the textbook. These additional homework assignments along with Connect’s visual aids were key in overcoming this challenge.

Professor NewMyer assigns content in LearnSmart and SmartBook corresponding to chapters in the textbook. She then uses the teacher resources to supplement any lecture material the students have a difficult time understanding. For example, when discussing DNA replication she will use an animation or video to help approach the topic. On average, she assigns one chapter a week with 40 different learning objectives. This takes students approximately 30 minutes to finish the 30-40 questions assigned.

Higher-grade distribution and test results have increased due to the implementation of LearnSmart. “Those that take time to complete the homework tend to understand the material better and therefore do better on tests and quizzes,” says Professor NewMeyer. “The use of LearnSmart always gives them a better grade.”

The use of Connect has also changed the way she conducts her classroom. “I spend more time on lectures now than just answering questions,” Professor NewMyer notes that “It seems the students understand the material more readily after they complete the homework assignments. Therefore, I am not answering as many questions about the material.”

She has also benefited from the use of Connect reports. The reports allow her to assess completion of the homework as well as the level of understanding. From here, she can track which subject matters her students are finding more difficult. “This knowledge allows me to focus on the difficult topics and spend less time on easier topics.”

The reports she finds most useful are the Missed Questions report and the Student Detail report. “The Missed Questions report helps me figure out the difficult topics that need more attention while the Student Detail report allows me to see the level of completion a student has reached. It will also show me if a student needed a long period of time to complete an assignment. This may indicate the student needs more instruction.”

An unexpected outcome from using Connect is that the LearnSmart homework often brings up a subject in class that is of interest to all students. This has stimulated great discussions on subjects that are related to the course. Professor NewMyer is also pleased with how well Connect integrates with Blackboard. “It allows for homework grades to be uploaded to my gradebook automatically. This means no grading needed. The program does it all for you.” She also has noticed less office visits pertaining to questions over the material.

Results Achieved

Data was compared from 1 section in the Spring of 2010 compared to 1 section in the Spring of 2014 after Connect was implemented (see Figure 1). Connect dramatically improved pass rates from 68% to 94%.

Score averages improved on all 5 exams given by Professor NewMyer, illustrating how Connect helps increase retention of course material (see Figure 2). On three of the exams, students performed at least 20% higher with the highest being 38%.

“I currently utilize Connect in several capacities including, but not limited to, the implementation of an online course. This course, in particular, is very reliant on Connect. Without the success of using Connect in my face to face classes I would not have attempted its use in the online classroom.”


Professor NewMyer is very happy with Connect and the way it has changed her classroom. The digital learning tools have greatly improved grade distribution and test results. With a 25% increase in students receiving a C or better and a 10-15% improvement in average exam scores.