Case Study: Spanish - West Virginia University
Digital Product in Use:
Elementary Spanish 101
Textbook in Use:
Experience Spanish by Amores, 1e
Maria Ruiz Rosique
96/term (instructor total)
Case Study Term:
“I think one of the main challenges that Connect helps to overcome is the time factor. Learning a language is very time consuming, and it takes more than 3 hours in class each week to master a language. Connect Spanish helps with this in the sense that the students can use it to not only do the homework assignments, but also to practice on their own with a wide range of activities.”
-Professor Maria Ruiz Rosique
Digital Course Solution Improves Student Performance and Instructor Efficiency
Professor Ruiz Rosique needed to provide her students with additional practice through activities completed outside of class. The assignments in Connect Spanish presented a wide variety of additional skills practice to serve this purpose. Being able to assign unique learning tools outside of class, such as the Mundo Interactivo and Tema activities, allowed her to effectively cover more course material while engaging students to interact more fully in the course content. As a result, homework activity increased significantly and the average quiz grade jumped ten points, from 76% to 86%.
West Virginia University is a public, land-grant institution founded in 1867. A research university, WVU is made up of 13 colleges and schools offering 193 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degree programs. It enrolls just over 29,000 students each year.
SPAN 1411 is an online course where students learn: beginner’s pronunciation, oral practice, conversation, development of listening comprehension, basic principles of grammar, simple exercises in composition, easy reading, which includes cultural material.
- 20% of the final grade based on two midterm exams
- 20% of the final grade based on one final exam
- 20% of the final grade based on four compositions
- 15% of the final grade based on class preparation and participation
- 10% of the final grade based on homework assignments (both within and outside of Connect)
- 10% of the final grade based on quizzes
- 5% of the final grade based on an oral interview
Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect
Professor Ruiz Rosique assigns one homework assignment in Connect Spanish each week that encompasses the material presented in her three weekly lectures. Each assignment typically includes 40-50 questions that focus on grammar, vocabulary, and listening and reading. Students are allowed unlimited attempts to get the right answer. The assignments also include cultural notes and chapter readings that Professor Ruiz Rosique would not otherwise have had time to cover in class. “This greatly improves my time management of the course, and also puts me at ease when I worry about not having as much time as I need to cover some activities, because I can trust that the students will find them in Connect.” In addition, she includes one Tema from each chapter of Experience Spanish. Beyond this, there are two additional assignments during the term: an at-home quiz of 80 questions that students have two weeks to complete, and a listening assignment to help prepare students for the final listening exam. Professor Ruiz Rosique’s students also work in “Mundo Interactivo,” an immersive, story-based world where they experience the thrill of mastering relevant, task-based communication scenarios in real-world contexts.
Each of Professor Ruiz Rosique’s assignments includes a combination of auto-graded and manually graded questions. Auto-grading clearly saves her time, and the Assignment Results and Item Analysis reports within Connect Spanish enable her to make more efficient use of class time. Using the detailed statistics about her overall class performance on homework assignments, she focuses class time on the areas that students struggle with to provide immediate feedback and clarification. This saves her significant class time as she does not have to review all of the activities one by one. She also reports that “the use of Connect helps a lot with the amount of time that I spend in the class doing grammar activities. Because I know that the students will practice the grammar in the Connect assignments, I focus more on the communicative aspects of the grammar and include more speaking activities in the lesson.”
She also uses the individual student data to address specific student needs. “The great thing about Connect is that it lets students see their results immediately. This keeps students informed about their performance and helps me, as a teacher, to reinforce that feedback and talk to students in person about what they are doing right and which problems they should work on.” She also relies on these reports to keep students on track by quickly noting who has and has not begun their assignments. Armed with this information and the knowledge that students have the tendency to leave things to the last minute, Professor Ruiz Rosique will be revising her assignments next semester, making them shorter and more consistent in their design. Based on positive student feedback, she will also be assigning more of the “Mundo Interactivo” scenarios for additional practice with authentic and meaningful activities.
Professor Ruiz Rosique reports that a greater percentage of students submitted homework assignments with Connect Spanish than ever before. Her classes also showed significant improvement in quiz grades (see Figure 1) and grade distribution (see Figure 2) after implementing Connect. “Students not only performed better on the at-home quizzes with the help of Connect, but they also did better on their regular class quizzes,” she says. The average final grade also improved, from 78.67% in the fall of 2010 without Connect Spanish to 82.2% after implementing Connect in spring 2011 (see Figure 3).
Professor Ruiz Rosique is pleased with how Connect Spanish has both saved her time and improved student performance. Assigning homework outside of class and being able to track her students’ performance on those assignments resulted in a significant increase in homework activity, a jump in average quiz grades by ten percentage points, and an improvement in average final grades by over three percentage points. Ruiz Rosique plans to continue using Connect, integrating even more assignments and assignment types, and including modules from LearnSmart™, the adaptive learning system available within Connect.