Case Study: Spanish - Lone Star College - Cyfair
Published February 23, 2017
Digital Product in Use:
SPAN 1411 Beginning Spanish 1, Lecture and lab
Textbook in Use:
Puntos de Partida by Marty Knorre, 9e
28/term (instructor total)
500/year (university total)
Case Study Term:
“The biggest challenge in teaching a foreign language online is getting students to speak. Connect really helped with that objective -- and that is a BIG one! Students got to repeat vocabulary, practice isolated sounds, answer questions orally, and construct original spoken sentences. This is something I was never able to do before Connect.”
-Professor Amy Uribe
Using Connect Leads to Higher Student Retention and Success Rates
Requiring Connect Spanish increased student retention rates and led to higher student success in Professor Uribe’s online class. Before she required her students to complete Connect Spanish homework assignments, about half of her students would drop the course and half of the remaining students would fail the course. In Fall 2011, only six of 25 students completed the course and, of those six, three students failed. In Spring 2012, when Uribe used Connect Spanish, 23 students completed the course, and none of them failed. In fact, the GPA for this class averaged 2.47. Student grades, retention rates, and pass rates are all impacted positively by requiring online students to use Connect Spanish.
Lone Star College -- CyFair is a two-year community college within the Lone Star College System (LSCS). LSCS is the largest institution of higher learning in the Houston area and is the fastest growing community college system in Texas. Approximately 90,000 students study at LSCS for associate degrees and for opportunities to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees at one of its two University Centers.
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 chapter tests
- 20% of the final grade based on midterm
- 20% of the final grade based on homework
- 20% of the final grade based on final exam
- 10% of the final grade based on McGraw-Hill LearnSmart™ modules
- 10% of the final grade based on participation (discussions)
Implementation of McGraw-Hill Connect Spanish
Professor Uribe requires her students to use Connect Spanish. She says, “Connect WAS my course. It was the primary place where students worked.” Uribe assigned three sets (vocabulary, grammar, and review) of twenty-question homework assignments, two LearnSmart modules, and the eBook for each chapter.
Because the class was online, she didn’t lecture. “I find that with grammar tutorial videos and other explanations provided in the Connect Plus eBook, I don’t really have to prepare much. Instead I spend my time deciding which activities to include in the homework assignments.”
Uribe believes that her students find Connect “very user friendly and do-able.” She made the assignments due every three to four days and most students completed the homework easily. She found that smaller assignments of twenty questions or less worked best, and they included a variety of activities. She kept separate assignments for vocabulary and grammar, while grouping all assignments for a given chapter together to help students stay organized. As a result, she found that students were more likely to complete their assignments in Connect and were more engaged in the course. “I also think the increase in student engagement had to do with the fact that students only saw what they had to do and didn’t get overwhelmed by the number of possible activities.”
Overall, she estimates that students spent 80% of their time in Connect completing the homework and LearnSmart assignments, while spending the remaining 20% in the Angel Learning Management System for class discussions and testing.
Uribe reports that her students’ grade distribution, retention rates, and passing rates have all been positively impacted by requiring students to complete homework assignments in Connect Spanish. “The numbers speak for themselves,” she says. In Fall 2011, when she did not use Connect Spanish, she began the course with 25 students, but only six students completed the course. 19 students dropped the course. The grade distribution was zero A’s, one B, one C, one D, and three F’s (see Figure 1).
In Spring 2012, when Uribe required her students to use Connect Spanish, she began the course with 28 students and 23 students completed the course. Two students earned A’s, nine students earned B’s, ten students earned C’s, two students earned D’s, and none of the students failed the course. More students completed the course because more students were comfortable doing their homework in Connect and believed they could succeed in the course.
Furthermore, Uribe believes that student engagement increased because the students were able to direct their own study by having easy access to all their resources, such as the eBook and tutorials, in one place. “In the past, I had students who would get to something confusing and quit. With Connect, students were able to work on the assignments and not get frustrated. If they had a question about something they were working on, they were able to click on the eBook link and study it.”
She also notes that Connect homework is easy for the students to follow. “In Connect, there may be several activities per chapter, but the students only see what is assigned and they are not confused as to what to do and what not to do. Assignments are VERY clear in Connect and that is why students do the homework.”
In Fall 2011, without Connect, 50% of the online students did not pass the course. With Connect, 100% of the students passed (see Figure 2). This is especially significant when you consider that more students remained in the Spring 2012 course. In Fall 2011, only 24% of the students stayed in the course; in Spring 2012, 82% of the students completed the course. Uribe says, “With Connect, the students stayed in class! My student success rate went way up!”
More students completed the course because more students were succeeding in the course (see Figure 3). When students use Connect Spanish, many more students earn passing grades consistently than without Connect. “Students can do Connect without a lot of training or frustration,” Uribe says. “Because of that, they can be successful. The students of today are much better at learning this way, and we need to be aware of that.”
She happily reports that Connect also enabled her to increase student opportunities to speak Spanish by using the record feature. “With Connect, there is much more focus on pronunciation and oral (unscripted) language production.”
Student grades, retention rates, and passing rates are impacted positively by requiring online students to use Connect Spanish. Connect allows students to effectively learn Spanish through LearnSmart, robust learning activities, the ebook and the record feature, encouraging more students to stay in the class, study the coursework, and succeed. “The biggest measure of success is having students stay in the course till the end,” Uribe says. As a result of her experience, her department will be implementing Connect throughout their beginning level Spanish classes.