Case Study: Physics I - Washtenaw Community College

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Physics

Course Name:

Physics I

Course Type:

Traditional (3 hours lecture & online and 1 hour in-class lab/week)

Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Physics by Giambattista, et al., 2e

Instructor Name:

Robert Hagood


50/year (instructor total)

480/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Fall 2010

My students’ test scores have increased since I began assigning Connect Physics. These new results have held roughly true the last three semesters during which I have used Connect.

-Professor Robert Hagood

Digital Course Solution Improves Student Success and Instructor Efficiency

Professor Robert Hagood knows the value of practice problems in his course, but felt limited in the amount of homework he could assign due to the time it took to manually grade and review it in class. He found that Connect Physics enabled him to assign a sufficient number of practice problems for students without adding to his grading time or using valuable class time to review. Not only do his students now get immediate feedback on their homework, but Professor Hagood is able to monitor individual student progress, as well as focus on areas of difficulty for entire classes. A noticeable increase in student engagement and academic performance has made Professor Hagood a campus proponent of Connect Physics.

Institution Profile

A two-year, public institution located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Washtenaw Community College serves 14,000 students yearly. The College offers approximately 100 credit programs in business, health and public service, humanities and social sciences, math and natural sciences, and technology.


Course Description:

This is the first of a two-course sequence in algebra- and trigonometry -based Newtonian physics for pre-professional and liberal art students. The course introduces and develops the concepts of kinematics, forces, work-energy, impulse-momentum (translational and angular), fluids, vibration, waves and heat. Laboratory exercises are included to assist students in understanding the topics and concepts.

Course Grade:

  • 67% of the final grade based on four exams
  • 16.5% of the final grade based on homework assignments within Connect Physics
  • 16.5% of the final grade based on lab participation and assignments

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Professor Hagood requires his students to complete fifteen homework questions for each chapter in the textbook. Students get instant feedback on their responses and hints to help them arrive at the correct answer if they don’t get it on their first attempt. All homework is done online and is automatically graded in Connect Physics.

Results Achieved

Professor Hagood is happy to report that both student engagement and student academic performance have increased as a result of using Connect Physics. “I have found that as students become more secure in their understanding of the topics covered, they have become more vocal in class, giving their input about the material,” he says. “I believe this is a direct result of using Connect Physics, which gives them more homework to build their practice time and their understanding of the material.” Since he began using Connect Physics in his Winter 2010 sections, Professor Hagood has seen significant improvements - the percentage of students achieving an A in the course rose from 32% to an average of 46% (see Figure 1), and the course pass rate rose from 78% to an 87% average (see Figure 2).

Professor Hagood also found that the more Connect assignments students completed, the higher their grades were (see Figure 3). “These numbers are telling. Students who use and complete their assignments in Connect Physics fare better on tests than the students who do not.”

Connect Physics has eliminated the need for Professor Hagood to spend two hours each week manually grading work. It has also cut the time he had previously spent going over the homework in class, leaving him more time to cover critical course material. “I really enjoy the extra time I have to work on other aspects of the course, from new labs to curriculum for the course,” he says.

Professor Hagood’s students appreciate the affordability of Connect. “The big deal is cost to students,” he observes. “They enjoy saving, on average, $80 by purchasing Connect Plus with the eBook included.”

“With Connect Physics, I am able to easily cover all aspects of the course objectives, whereas before I spent more time covering homework in class and struggled to cover all topics in the course objectives.”

“I did find that my students benefited from the system – they were able to do a lot more homework problems, giving them more time to practice the topics from class – and they seem to retain more information from the homework assignments.”

“I can say that since I began using Connect Physics, I have seen an increase in the number of students who are attending class on a regular basis.”

“The online homework gave me the option of offering more homework per chapter for my students.”

- Professor Robert Hagood


Professor Hagood is pleased with Connect Physics and recommends it to his colleagues. Not only does he intend to continue using the system for homework assignments, but he will also begin adding quizzes within Connect to his syllabus. “There is only one way to learn the material,” he asserts, “and that is to practice the material by working on problems. Connect gives students many opportunities to practice and improve their skills and understanding.”