Case Study: Sociology - Indiana University Purdue University - Fort Wayne

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Sociology
LMS Integration: Blackboard

Course Name:

Principles of Sociology

Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Sociology: A Brief Introduction by Richard T. Schaefer, 10e

Instructor Name:

Curtis D. Hosier, PhD


2 sections

45 students/section

1500 students/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Spring 2014 and Spring 2015

“On average, students using Connect have scored approximately one letter grade better on tests than those not using Connect.”

-Dr. Curtis D. Hosier

Connect Boosts Student’s Grades, Eliminates Quiz/Exam Grading, and Allows For More Scope and Depth of Lecture Content

Professor Hosier incorporated Connect starting in Fall 2014, to save student, as well as instructor, time and improve student performance. He has been requiring Connect for his students in the subsequent semesters. Prior to using Connect he provided students with a different digital program that had not been effective. Since transitioning to Connect he reports that the results have been impressive; “The passing rate increased approximately 14 percent,” he says, while retention rates increased 7 percent. His grading and quiz administering time were eliminated, while his lecture preparation became more focused on conceptual information.


Course Grade is determined by the following:
53% - Connect Exams (4)
34% - Connect Quizzes (13) and SmartBook
13% - Opinion Paper

Hosier requires students to use Connect for all course assignments with the exception of a required research paper. He requires 13 SmartBook chapters with all topics included and a maximum average time required to be completed before lecture. “The more foundation offered prior to lecture, the more scope and depth can be achieved in lecture,” Hosier says. Today, he says, “I seldom need to lecture on the basic terms, concepts, and theory.”

Hosier assigns a weekly multiple choice quiz that mirrors a three chapter comprehensive exam completing each three week testing cycle. The three chapter comprehensive exams have a time limit of one hour and 15 minutes to complete with 50 multiple choice questions. At the end of each three-week testing cycle, Hosier syncs all Connect assignment scores to the Blackboard grade book.

Hosier regularly uses the detailed data available in the Connect reports to help him achieve his course goals. Hosier says, “I utilize the Connect reports to evaluate and develop my comprehensive exams.” To further impact student retention and course success, he uses individual reports to have one on one discussions with students about their performance. Reports most useful to him, he says, are Connect Insights, assignment results and statistics, student performance item and category analysis and at-risk reports.

Starting Fall 2015, Hosier is looking forward to incorporating four discussion board assignments as well as a writing assignment. “I recommend starting with SmartBook and evaluation tools (exams and quizzes) for a term or two before incorporating additional Connect assignments,” Hosier says. “I believe once I became comfortable with the paths I assigned, I felt confident to increase my Connect student offerings.

Results Achieved

Since he began using Connect and SmartBook in Fall 2014, Hosier has found it provides students with greater knowledge of sociological terms, as well as a deeper understanding of concepts and theory, than the previous system. Because students have a greater foundation when they come to lectures as a result of SmartBook, Hosier’s time is not spent in remedial explanations of definitions. In addition, he finds students do not use office hours as much as they had with previous systems, indicating they have a better understanding of the material.

“When it comes to grades, testing scores have dramatically increased with the incorporation of Connect and SmartBook,” Hosier says (Figure 1). Approximately 53% of the course grade is based on testing. The improved performance on testing since implementation of Connect has resulted in an average increase of one grade for students (Figure 2). Hosier reports, “Connect has improved overall grades, retention, attendance and test scores.”

Students passed the course with implementation of Connect at a rate of 87%, while previous to Connect the pass rate was 73.3% (Figure 3). In addition, retention rates were 95% with Connect, rising from 88% before Connect (Figure 4). Even class attendance rose from 90% before Connect, to 95% once it was implemented (Figure 5).

Course Description:

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) is a coeducational public university in Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States. Founded in 1964, IPFW is a cooperatively-managed regional campus of two state university systems: Indiana University and Purdue University. IPFW enrolls 13,459 undergraduate and postgraduate students in nine colleges and schools, including a branch of the Indiana University School of Medicine. IPFW offers more than 200 graduate and undergraduate degree programs through IU or Purdue universities

Institution Profile:

The Principles of Sociology course explores the nature of interpersonal relationships, societies, groups, communities and institutional areas that include the family, politics, education, economy and religion. The course also covers social process related to significance for social change and social stratification.

“I learn it instead of memorizing it” and, “I have a picture in my head, not just a bunch of words.”

- A student from Indiana University – Purdue University For Wayne

Student improvement is not only reflected in grades. Those taking the course have indicated that Connect enhances their understanding of the materials. He comments [that students have indicated to him that], “They believe the interactive component SmartBook with the recharge is of great value in their learning of the materials.” Furthermore, he finds that as a student develops a deeper understanding of the materials, everything is positively enhanced, including the writing assignment.

Hosier reports that in addition to the benefit of focusing his time more on the conceptual side of his course in lectures and lecture preparation, grading is also completed within the program and easily synchronized. That, he says, was not the case with his previous program. He estimates that the system saves him 30 minutes of weekly grading.

“My students are offered more scope and depth of sociology in lecture because my time is not spent in remedial lectures of definitions,” he said. “In place I offer application of these, leading to a greater understanding of the materials producing higher student retention and success.”

“Connect allows for an active learning environment, not a passive ‘memorize, regurgitate, forget’ learning style.”


Since Connect was implemented pass rates increased by 14 percent and retention rates have increased by 7 percent. “In general, three additional students pass this course per semester since implementing Connect,” says Hosier. Because Hosier needs to lecture only about theory and concepts weekly, he is spending more time conceptualizing and by default, less time explaining definitions.