Case Study: Chemistry - College of Charleston


College of Charleston Logo

Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Chemistry


Course Name:

Principles of Chemistry I


Course Type:

Traditional


Credit Hours:

Three


Textbook in Use:

General Chemistry: The Essential Concepts by Chang, 6e


Instructor Name:

Jason Overby


Enrollment:

80/year (instructor total)

500/year (university total)


Case Study Term:

Fall 2010


“Connect Chemistry makes me more efficient in the classroom and helps me recapture lecture time.


My metrics are always exam performance and final exam performance. Overall, I saw a rise in scores for both sets of exams and I believe it is due to Connect.”

-Professor Jason Overby

Digital Course Solution Improves Student Success


Professor Overby understands the critical role that daily homework assignments and practice play in how successfully students learn chemistry concepts and principles. He implemented Connect Chemistry in order to give his students immediate feedback as they complete their homework assignments. To ensure that students stay on task, 15% of their final grade is based on upon these assignments within Connect. As a result, Professor Overby’s students are earning more A’s and B’s than prior to using Connect Chemistry.

Institution Profile

The College of Charleston, a nationally recognized public university located in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, offers 47 baccalaureate degrees and 19 master’s degree programs. The campus serves 11,000 students annually.

Implementation

Course Description:

Principles of Chemistry is an introductory course emphasizing theoretical aspects and designed primarily for students who intend to take one or more additional courses in chemistry.

Course Grade:

  • 65% of the final grade based on exams
  • 20% of the final grade based on one final exam
  • 15% of the final grade based on homework assignments within Connect Chemistry

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Professor Overby uses Connect Chemistry to deliver homework assignments after every lecture to ensure that students have ample opportunity to review and engage with course material that has been presented in class. For each chapter he assigns, 3-7 assignments comprised of 2-4 questions each are focused on each section covered in that chapter.

Professor Overby has also discovered the value of the integrated eBook within Connect Plus. He actively uses the ‘Share’ feature to share highlights and notes he makes in the eBook with his students. This helps them focus their study time more effectively on the material he feels is most important. “Previously, students would never use an eBook because there was no apparent reason to,” he says. “Now, however, they use it because I share my highlights and notes in the eBook and the students like to see what I have to say about things. If I ever forget to update the eBook after class, my students let me know about it, which means that they have been using and engaging in the eBook.”

Results Achieved

Connect Chemistry has helped Professor Overby to incorporate regular homework assignments into his Principles of Chemistry course while ensuring that his students get the immediate feedback they need. Furthermore, he has found a better design for homework assignments than the traditional 10-question, end-of-chapter model, which his students often put off until the last moment. With Connect Chemistry, Overby requires students to complete short assignments after every lecture period, ensuring that students engage almost daily with course material and providing immediate reinforcement of the lecture topics.

The daily engagement has paid off. Professor Overby has seen a significant grade distribution change with Connect. Students now have more A’s and B’s, and fewer C’s and D’s (see Figure 1). “This is a regular general chemistry class that often shows wide variances from year to year because the student composition can be radically different,” he reports. “Overall, the class average in this class tends to be fairly clustered around 75%, but since implementing Connect Chemistry, I have seen a significant improvement in the class average and on exams.”

Figure 1: Grade Distribution | Figure 2: Exam Averages

Professor Overby administers four exams each semester in Principles of Chemistry. Since his students are now required to complete homework assignments in Connect, he has seen an average increase of 4.5% in exam scores (see Figure 2). “When I compare exam scores from the last 10 years of teaching, there has always been a fairly tight variance among my classes (±2.2% with just a few anomalies on individual exams over the years),” he says. “Now, with Connect Chemistry, there is a very noticeable rise across the board.”

The final exam in Professor Overby’s course is the American Chemical Society national standardized exam that he uses to measure the progress of each class. With Connect Chemistry, Overby has seen his class average rise to surpass the national average on this national exam (see Figure 3). The national mean is 42.3 out of 70, yet Overby’s class average for those using Connect is 46 out of 70. “This is the highest class average on the final exam I have ever had in a regular general chemistry course,” he proudly states. “I think the use of Connect and the fact that I give regular assignments every lecture period helped to drill home the material.”

Figure 3: ACS Standardized Final Exam Averages

Another benefit of Connect Chemistry is the information provided in reports, which help Professor Overby to ensure student mastery of course material. By glancing at class scores on individual homework questions before class, he notes the trends that show where students are missing the same questions, and then covers that material in his next lecture. “This method helps me to make sure that I am not glossing over or going too fast on a particular topic.”

Connect Chemistry also frees up lecture time that Professor Overby previously spent giving in-class quizzes. “By the end of the semester, I would have lost essentially two whole lecture periods,” he says. “Connect allows me to back lost time, and helps me to ensure that students are doing some form of work outside class.” Overby has recovered time spent grading these quizzes after class, since Connect Chemistry has automatic grading.

Professor Overby notes that his students are finding the help they need with homework assignments in Connect, so he sees fewer of them in his office asking routine questions. “With the level of hints, feedback, and guided solutions, there is more than enough information for students to get the right answer, understand the material, and get help when they need it, often during the middle of the night when I am not around to help,” he says. “Connect has a simplistic design, ease-of-use, a broad range of content, and valuable hints, feedback, and guided solutions. With the added benefit of LearnSmart™, the adaptive assessment tool within Connect, the integration of Tegrity™ for lecture capture, and the advanced reporting system as opposed to a static gradebook, Connect and LearnSmart represent the true evolution of online homework!”

Conclusion

Professor Overby is very happy with Connect Chemistry and will continue to use it and to recommend it to other faculty in his department. “I have been a big believer in online homework for a decade. I have had to struggle with subtle nuances and quirks in previous platforms, but not now. I quickly learned how easy it was to get going in Connect, and to utilize its power for delivering online homework.”