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Achievement and Outcomes

Category: Achievement and Outcomes

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Achieving better learning with Technology: Ulster University Business School improves pass rates and student engagement with MindTap

Posted on: 06/09/2016 | Edited by: Vicky Pavlicic

Ulster University is ranked within the top 3% of universities in the world and is aiming even higher. Its Business School is one of the largest in the UK and Ireland and has worked with Northern Ireland’s businesses and organisations in helping them achieve their goals for over 40 years. It has over 6,000 students and approximately 140 academic staff.

The Challenge – Motivating and Engaging Students

Dr. David Duffy had used Cengage’s Aplia online testing and tutorial system at other universities since 2007 and began using it at Ulster in September 2015.

“Students often find the content of first-year economics difficult and don’t spend enough time learning, understanding and thinking through economic models. Class time is fixed and lecturers and tutors are limited by time to provide motivation, guidance, and feedback to all students on a regular basis. Moreover, first-year students sometimes need more structure to their learning paths as they transition from school to university.

I particularly needed to motivate and engage first-year students in Introductory Economics. Traditionally, this large first-year course had presented challenges to students and teaching staff and failure rates were high.”

The Solution – An Online Tutorial and Testing System

MindTap combines readings, multimedia, activities, practice assessments and answers into a single customisable learning path which lecturers can personalise by adding their own content. Within MindTap, Aplia is a tutorial and testing system which significantly improves outcomes and elevates thinking by increasing student effort and engagement.

Dr. Duffy surveyed 23 students who took part in an eight week trial of the system. He found;

100% of students agreed or strongly agreed that Aplia with MindTap was easy to use.

82% either agreed or strongly agreed that Aplia was valuable when preparing for tests.

95% of students agreed or strongly agreed that Aplia helped to maximise the effectiveness of study time.

95% of students agreed or strongly agreed that Aplia helped them to better understand their course.

The Results – Improved Success Rates and Student Retention

“For me, the most useful aspect of MindTap is that it gathers a bunch of resources and problem sets and matches them to my teaching schedule. These are all good quality questions which require students to interact with economic models. Moreover, I can assign coursework weightings to incentivise and reward students for their independent effort on MindTap. In my first-semester course attendance rates have improved and failure rates have dropped on the module.

Over the last two years we have had much-improved success rates, with fewer than 10% failing their first-year Microeconomic course, compared with around 30% previously.