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Achievement and Outcomes

Category: Achievement and Outcomes

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Wageningen University uses edtech to improve the final grades of Organic Chemistry students

Posted on: 14/03/2018 | Edited by: Laura Lichtensteiger

About Wageningen University

Wageningen University in the Netherlands, is an institution that specialises in Life Sciences, focusing particularly on the theme of Healthy Food and Living Environment, with approximately 6,500 staff and 10,000 students from over 100 countries. After being founded in 1918, it has evolved over recent years to become one of the World’s leading research and education establishments, focusing on environmental, agricultural, animal, plant and social science disciplines.

It offers a wide range of Organic Chemistry courses that attract an intake of 3,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students every year.

The Challenge – improving participation and learning outcomes

OWL was initially offered to first year Organic Chemistry students studying at Wageningen University eight years ago, as part of a trial to improve engagement and learning outcomes. The introduction of OWL has radically changed the approach to digital learning at the University. OWLv2, the updated version of the tool, has been integrated into the University’s Organic Chemistry courses and is paired with the texts Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry, 7e and Organic Chemistry, 8e by John McMurry.


What is OWLv2?

OWLv2 is a powerful online learning system, which is proven to help students succeed in Chemistry. Its unique Mastery Learning allows students to practise at their own pace, receive meaningful feedback through real-time analytics and access a variety of learning resources to help them achieve better grades. OWLv2 is a flexible learning solution that offers personalised study tools, enhanced integration with learning management systems, adaptive study tools and extensive analytics Includes an Integrated MindTap Reader eBook, providing students with additional resources to assist them with their learning and understanding

OWLv2 is available alongside a number of Chemistry disciplines, ranging from General Chemistry through to more specific topics such as Liberal Arts Chemistry

Erik van Rozendaal, Assistant Professor at Wageningen University and coordinator of OWLv2, highlighted the significant improvement to students’ final grades which previously averaged around 60%. Over the course of one year since using OWLv2, average final grades have increased up to 75%.

“The proportion of students completing their homework has risen and, most importantly, the university has found a direct correlation between students’ homework scores in OWLv2 and their final grades. Students who achieved good results in OWLv2 have also performed well in exams.”

Erik van Rozendaal also highlighted the use of OWLv2 to increase student engagement on the course, “We also set assignment deadlines in OWLv2 to ensure a higher level of commitment from students which motivates them to keep up to speed with the content.”


The Results

Erik van Rozendaal discussed the benefits of using OWLv2 with his Organic Chemistry students and told us, “A significant correlation exists between homework scores achieved using OWLv2 from Cengage and students’ final grades. OWLv2 has been directly attributed to raising standards and results for our students.” Since the start of the trial, the use of OWLv2 has grown substantially in popularity with 95% of the students on the first year Organic Chemistry courses now using OWLv2 to score bonus points towards their final year results. Also, “due to the success in the first year courses, we now use OWLv2 in some second year courses.”

In a concluding statement, Dr van Rozendaal said, “In an increasingly competitive market, it is important for universities as learning institutions to prepare students adequately to enter the workforce. Any university that offers Chemistry courses and is serious about helping their students excel, should consider OWLv2 which in my experience, has led to significant improvements in the grades of our students year on year.”


Due to the overall improvement in results and the positive feedback received from first year students, the University has now implemented OWLv2 for some second year courses. Overall, the use of OWLv2 at Wageningen University has proved positive, with both students and instructors benefiting from increased student engagement, wider understanding of application to theoretical knowledge through Mastery Learning Problems and generally improved grades in the module.