How to Save Time Using Connect and SmartBook

June 11, 2019 Lynn Preston

Instructors are always looking for ways to save time. With lectures, exams, meetings, office hours, conferences, grading, etc. it’s hard to see where an instructor can cut to save time. One thing I’ve found that’s made a positive impact for me and my students is McGraw-Hill’s Connect online program. During my experimentation phase with the program, I used the same course setup – same lectures, same exams, etc. – and saw a 10-point increase on average. And while helping my students practice and improve their scores I saw significant time saved for myself in my lectures and office hours.

Saving Time During Lectures with Connect:

  • Practicing Challenging Material

More challenging topics can often be a stumbling block for students – some more than others – and can often bring a lecture to a standstill.  Assigning some of the easier learning outcomes for that unit or topic to be mastered outside of class with  Connect (LearnSmart or SmartBook) can help students practice material that they found difficult during class. That private, one-on-one practice online gives them the opportunity to master the material at their pace and let me intervene when additional one-on-one help and instruction is needed.

  • Flipping the Classroom

By assigning Connect material or quizzes to students before we discuss the topics in class my students are able to get a background or base knowledge of the upcoming lesson material. This helps streamline the lessons themselves - I can look over the item analysis or frequently missed learning objectives report – and see which core concepts the majority of students are struggling with. This setup only takes a few minutes to assess from the instructor perspective but the analysis but saves valuable time during my lectures by helping me see what fundamental concepts we need to review and where, time-wise, I can afford to spend more time on in-depth discussions.

  • Individualized Work Groups

Students frequently learn at different paces. Connect can help instructors identify students who are stronger in certain topics. Instructors can use that information to intentionally put high-performing students in workgroups during lecture and lab with students who may be struggling. This type of peer learning can have amazing results.

  • Using Data to Change Assessments

As a department, we compare statistics from Connect (SmartBook/LearnSmart) between all courses and instructors. This helps keep consistency and allows to identify specific areas of change.

How Connect Saves Time During Office Hours

So much of an instructor’s time can be spent trying to figure out exactly what individual or struggling students needed help with the most. In most instances, students don’t know what they don’t knowConnect, through its adaptive tools like SmartBook and LearnSmart,  can pinpoint to an individual student the exact learning outcomes they are struggling with. During office hour consultations this can save an enormous amount of time by:

  • Personalizing Study Time

Students can be shown their own item or topic analysis via Connect reports. This can help them be proactive about their study time - showing specifically what learning outcomes they have been missing and essentially designing a personalized study guide.

  • Specific Missed Questions

In addition to showing the topics that students are struggling with, Connect’s reports also display which specific questions an individual student has missed. This provides a perfect, tailor-made set of examples to discuss in-office hours without requiring any additional prep or lesson planning.

  • Identifying Duel Teaching Opportunities

By using Connect’s reports, instructors can identify students with the same topic struggles and ask them to come in for joint tutoring sessions.

  • Identifying Peer Tutoring Opportunities

Connect’s reports can also let instructors identify students that are strong in certain areas and those that are weak in the same areas and help arrange peer tutoring sessions.

Saving Time for Adjuncts

As with most institutions, it is not uncommon to have a revolving door of adjuncts from time to time. The amount of work we are asking them to do can be daunting. Being able to copy all my assignments in Connect right over to an adjuncts course has been invaluable. This also helps us maintain a level of consistency between all our sections ensuring a specific level of rigor and similar experience for all students no matter the instructor. Adjuncts are thankful for the course copy options – I set mine so the adjuncts can adjust policies and questions when they become comfortable with their course and the use of Connect.

Connect has not only saved me time in preparing my lectures but more importantly, it has empowered my students. Students are more confident in the material they are learning and how to manage their own experiences in this course.

About the Author

Lynn Preston

Dr. Lynn Preston is a professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Tarrant County College Northwest campus. She has been teaching A&P for over 13 years and has taught every format offered: traditional 16 week, 6 and 8 week courses, hybrid, blended, accelerated, online and flipped classroom. Dr. Preston has also been involved in many projects with McGraw Hill over the last decade including editing, advising, DFC, SME and authoring. In addition to teaching A&P, Lynn is also the director of her district's honors program and in her spare time travels to Sammy Hagar concerts all over the world.

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