Case Study: Economics - North Virginia Community College Manassas Campus

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Digital Product in Use:

Connect® Economics

Course Name:

ECO 201 Principles of Macroeconomics

ECO 202 Principles of Microeconomics

Course Type:


Credit Hours:


Textbook in Use:

Principles of Macroeconomics by Campbell McConnell, Stanley Brue, and Sean Flynn, 19th Edition

Principles of Microeconomics by Campbell McConnell, Stanley Brue, and Sean Flynn, 19th Edition

Instructor Name:

Laura Jean Bhadra


30 students per section

300/year (university total)

Case Study Term:

Spring 2013 (without Connect/SmartBook)

Spring 2014 (with Connect/SmartBook)

Connect is an excellent system to manage grading and administration.

-Professor Laura Jean Bhadra

Connect Economics Helps Instructor Engage and Manage 150 Students with Interactive Learning

Because Professor Bhadra teaches 5 courses – approximately 150 students – a semester, she wanted to find an effective tool to help her present interactive lectures, reinforce course content in homework assignments, and administer her courses skillfully by staying organized and on top of her grading responsibilities. Connect Economics helped her reach those goals.

Bhadra believes Connect makes her classes more interactive because she has more time to prepare for her lectures and stretch beyond the text material: “I know students will have the basic concepts reinforced with Smartbook and chapter reviews.”

Further, the burden of grading and administering the courses are lightened with Connect. Bhadra states, “The time saved in grading is the biggest impact for me. The efficiency with which Connect grades and seamlessly syncs with Blackboard is a huge advantage.”

Institution Profile

Located near Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest educational institution in Virginia and the second largest community college in the United States. The student population is one of the most internationally diverse in the United States, with individuals from more than 180 countries. Over 75,000 students can choose among 160 certificate programs and associates’ degrees and can attend classes on six campuses, four educational centers, and online.


Course Description:

ECO 201 Principles of Macroeconomics introduces macroeconomics including the study of Keynesian, classical, monetarist principles and theories, the study of national economic growth, inflation, recession, unemployment, financial markets, money and banking, the role of government spending and taxation, along with international trade and investments. This course is designed to provide students with the conceptual tools and analysis to understand economic principles and policies.

ECO 202 Principles of Microeconomics introduces the basic concepts of microeconomics and explores the free market concepts with coverage of economic models and graphs, scarcity and choices, supply and demand, elasticity’s, marginal benefits and costs, profits, and production and distribution.

Course Grade:

The grade is determined by: Exams (3 exams that total 45%); Participation, includes attendance and discussion board (10%); Connect chapter reviews and SmartBook assignments for each chapter (20%); Connect review quizzes (3 quizzes that total 15%); and Video response assignments (2 assignments that total 10%).

Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect

Each week Professor Bhadra assigns a short quiz (10 questions) plus 30-40 minutes of SmartBook for each chapter due on a weekly basis. Bhadra usually covers around 15 chapters, incorporating 30 short assignments that should not take the student more than one hour per week. Bhadra says, “With Connect, I can check to see how particular students are keeping up with their assignments, and I can also see if the class as a whole is having trouble with any particular topic or chapter.”

She also gives a review quiz of 50 questions in Connect before each of the three exams. Bhadra believes, “This continual review and chance to work with the material on their own through SmartBook has greatly enhanced students’ understanding of the course material.”

Students take three exams per semester and each exam covers five chapters of material. Exams are given in the classroom, not in Connect. All other assignments, including the two video assignments, are in Connect/Blackboard.

Bhadra says, “I love the way Connect integrates with Blackboard! With a single sign on, students can access all the course material such as the syllabus and due dates as well as jump to the eBook, SmartBook, and other required assignments. I love the way Connect grades enter directly into the Blackboard gradebook.”

Results Achieved

Bhadra appreciates that Connect/SmartBook helps her provide the students with more learning and reviewing opportunities for course content: “As a result of using Connect, I am able to cover more content. Having the students complete the SmartBook assignments helps the students understand complex economic concepts and allows me to spend more time in class on extended applications.”

Most importantly, the class experience for both the students and the instructor improved. Bhadra states, “Spending time with the material on a weekly basis using Smartbook assignments and the chapter reviews focuses the students and pushes them to keep up with the class rather than delay the studying until the exam.”

She was also pleased that she had more time to make the classroom experience more engaging. Bhadra said, “We are able to do more in class activities and develop more of a flipped classroom due to students’ work in Connect.”

Bhadra appreciated that the administrative work for her courses had been reduced. She no longer has to spend time reviewing homework or giving quizzes. Connect/SmartBook does that for her. Her grading time has also been significantly decreased. She used to spend 10 hours a week reviewing homework, 2 hours a week giving quizzes, and 4 hours a week grading. That’s a total of 16 hours a week – added to the time Bhadra spends in the classroom – reduced to 1 hour a week only for grading (see Figure 1).

“The reduced grading time is a HUGE advantage of Connect! I have always given multiple choice reviews for each chapter because economics needs to be continually reinforced for many students. However, before Connect, I was using paper scantrons, grading by machine, and then entering the grades manually in the Blackboard gradebook. Connect does all that work for me! All I need to do is set up the review quizzes for each chapter, assign the quizzes, and Connect grades them all AND syncs them to the Blackboard gradebook! It’s a great system.”

Northern Virginia Community College Charts - Instructor Hours Spent

Because Connect/SmartBook has helped reduce the amount of time Bhadra spends grading, she has more time to prepare for lecture: “Connect helps me prepare for lecture by greatly reducing the time required for grading, particularly of multiple choice assignments.” She has been able to devote 8 hours to lecture prep instead of 5 hours, and she can devote 4 hours to applying concepts and active learning activities for her classroom rather than 2 hours (see Figure 2).

Not only does Connect/SmartBook save the instructor’s time, Connect/SmartBook also helps save money. Bhadra says, “The cost savings in moving to the eBook have been considerable. More sections can be offered as time spent in grading and administration for each section is reduced.” 

Overall, Bhadra appreciates that, “Connect greatly reduces my grading time and administrative/management time for my classes and therefore allows me to spend more time on lecture preparation. Further, Connect helped me become a more organized and a better course administrator.” Bhadra says she plans to continue using Connect/SmartBook; and, because she’s the Program Head for the Economics Department, she encourages adjuncts to use Connect/SmartBook as well.

“Review, homework, and quizzes were made MUCH easier to manage with Connect. Time spent grading was greatly reduced.”


Bhadra believes Connect/SmartBook has made a positive impact in her economics classes. “The continual review and the chance to work with the material on their own through SmartBook has greatly enhanced students’ understanding of the course material.” Connect/SmartBook has also helped Bhadra have more time to prepare for lectures and to cover more content in the course because she no longer has to spend time grading or reviewing homework. “The time saved in grading is the biggest impact for me. The efficiency with which Connect grades and seamlessly syncs with Blackboard is a huge advantage.”