DFC Experience Shared
Connect provides automatic grading with feedback for students in large classes
Previously, in Muriel’s classes, homework could only be collected as a “surprise” and scanned for “reasonableness.” She could no longer manually grade homework for students in the large sections of her courses. She just didn’t have the time. However, with Connect, Muriel can assign homework and not worry about being overwhelmed with the grading challenges. Students also appreciate the opportunity provided by Connect to learn course concepts. One student said in a semester’s end evaluation, “Connect assignments were an exceptional tool that gave me a lot of practice with different types of questions. Without Connect, I don’t think I would have been as prepared for the class as I was.”
How do you use Connect / LearnSmart?
I teach Introduction to Financial Accounting I and use textbook Fundamentals of Financial Accounting by Phillips, Libby, and Libby.
I’ve used LearnSmart this year for the first time and assigned it as “ungraded practice,” but I plan to use it next year as a graded assignment.
My course breakdown is Exams 75%, Quizzes 12.5%, and Homework 12.5%.
How many assignments do you assign on average each week within Connect / LearnSmart?
I assign an average of three assignments per week: 45 minutes of LearnSmart (ungraded), 10 ungraded practice problems, and 8 graded problems. LearnSmart and ungraded assignments are due before lecture. Graded assignments are due after lecture.
It does appear, though, that most students will not complete the ungraded practice assignments before lecture because those assignments are not graded. I will be moving toward requiring some of these for a grade.
What were your primary selection criteria for adopting Connect / LearnSmart?
Due to such large class sizes, I was unable to manually grade student homework. Connect allows students to receive automatic grading with feedback.
Has Connect / LearnSmart affected how much time you spend grading?
Due to large class sizes, I was never able to grade homework for students. Homework was only collected on a surprise basis and scanned for “reasonableness.” Connect has now allowed for grading with no human intervention.
Has using the reports in Connect / LearnSmart helped you identify at-risk students?
Yes, I share chapter homework averages with the students. This seems to motivate some of the laggards to step up when they hear how high the average can be.
Has Connect / LearnSmart helped you meet your course objectives?
Connect / LearnSmart has helped me overcome the inability to grade homework problems. Students better understand the material due to “check my work,” “hints,” and other LearnSmart features.
Have you experienced any unexpected outcomes from using Connect / LearnSmart?
Connect / LearnSmart have definitely reduced lines during office hours! Overall, my students give the digital solutions positive reviews because they prefer completing the homework online vs. paper and pencil. The students feel the benefit from the helpful features (“check my work,” “hints,” and eBook access) provided.
Do you have any specific student feedback you’d like to share?
Here are some quotes from end of semester course evaluations:
“Connect assignments were an exceptional tool that gave me a lot of practice with different types of questions. Without Connect, I don’t think I would have been as prepared for the class as I was.”
“Using Connect for the ungraded practice homework helped me better understand the material before the graded homework was due.
“Integrating the Connect ungraded and graded homework assignments, along with the textbook examples and professor lectures, helped me most in learning the course material.”
What did you learn during your initial implementation of Connect / LearnSmart?
I learned that I can assign an appropriate level of homework to large classes without considering the grading impact on the professor and teaching assistants. (In other words, you don’t have to cut back on assignments because you’re too worried about having too much work for yourself and your staff.)
What are your plans for using Connect / LearnSmart in the future?
I plan to continue using Connect going forward and implement more of its features (e.g., assign LearnSmart for a grade).