MyAccountingLab educator study investigates Dynamic Study Module scores and homework, quiz, and exam scores
- Data indicate a strong, positive correlation between Dynamic Study Module scores and MyLab homework scores and a very strong correlation between MyLab quiz and exam scores.
- Students earning higher Dynamic Study Module scores also earned substantially higher average quiz and exam scores.
- Students on an end-of-semester survey unanimously agreed that the test-review-retest pattern of the Dynamic Study Modules helped them learn and remember chapter content.
Lakeland Community College, Kirtland, OH
Introduction to Financial Accounting
MyLab Accounting; Horngren’s Financial and Managerial Accounting by Nobles, Mattison, and Matsumura
Jim Racic, Professor
What I liked most is when working on homework problems I had the option of ‘Help Me Solve This’. It really made a difference when trying to understand what the book was showing me. It offered a different type of example.Student survey response
- Locale: large, suburban, public, two-year university
- Enrollment: 13,000 credit, 7,000 non-credit students
- Student-faculty ratio: 19:1
- Full-time students: 34 percent
- First-time freshmen: 28 percent
- Gender: 59 percent female
- Average age: 27
- Diversity: 20 percent total minority
About the Course
Professor Jim Racic has been teaching for approximately 22 years, first as an adjunct at Lakeland Community College, becoming full-time in 1999, where he has been teaching Introduction to Financial Accounting his entire tenure. Introduction to Financial Accounting is a one-semester, four-credit course which is part of a two-semester sequence with Managerial Accounting. Annually, the course enrolls nearly 700 management, accounting, and economics students from the College of Business. Approximately 50 percent of the students are college-aged (18-25), 20 percent are high school students, and 30 percent are older, returning students. The course examines financial accounting and reporting with emphasis on analysis and interpretation from a user perspective. Topics covered include accounting principles underlying the accounting cycle, income measurement using accrual accounting, asset valuation, ratio analysis, and cash flow. General course learning outcomes include:
- introducing students to fundamental accounting concepts and principles;
- enabling students to understand why reliable accounting information and ethical accounting practices are essential to the functioning of capitalistic society; and
- exploring how the mechanics of accrual accounting measure the effect that financing, investing, and income producing activities have on the profitability of the business.
Challenges and Goals
Racic was among the first instructors at Lakeland to incorporate digital learning technologies into his courses. He found that graded homework provided just-in-time learning support via automatic feedback that wasn’t possible with paper-and-pencil assignments. As the digital programs improved and added features, Racic’s usage also evolved, and he frequently implemented new resources into his course. To keep current with new technology options, Racic would often reassess alternative possibilities when his textbook published in a new edition. As Fall 2015 approached, and with his then current text revising, he spoke with a colleague using MyLab™ Accounting in another course at Lakeland with great success. At his colleague’s suggestion, and in partnership with his Pearson support team, Racic adopted a Pearson text and MyLab for that semester. Additionally, Racic opted to use and evaluate the Dynamic Study Modules as part of his MyLab assignments.
I liked the Dynamic Study Modules and homework assignments as these contributed greatly to my understanding of the material.Student survey response
MyLab Accounting is required; the program is used primarily by students working at home on a personal computer. Students use MyLab for understanding content, homework assignments, and testing. Racic’s goals for assigning work in MyLab are to teach new concepts, provide homework and practice opportunities, help students assess their own understanding of the course material and track their progress, and identify at-risk students. As the course instructor, his role is to assign content, homework, and assessments in MyLab and provide support and remote monitoring to students using the program at home.
Racic anticipates that students will spend at least 3–4 hours per week working in MyLab, including time spent reading the eText. Racic’s students confirmed this on a voluntary, end-of-semester Spring 2016 survey (42 percent response rate)—54 percent of students said they spent more than four hours per week working in MyLab while the remaining 46 percent of students said they spent 2–4 hours working in the program.
At the beginning of the semester, Racic provides his students with a very detailed course syllabus explaining all assignments and assessments for the course. The explanations provide students with the rationale for each assignment, directions for completing the assignment, and specific time constraints and due dates. Providing such detailed information helps online students get an immediate and effective start. Students are also expected to view an online learning video (“How to Take an Online Course”) and review frequently asked questions. To encourage immediate registration in MyLab, the first homework assignment is used to confirm they are active in the course. Required to verify student attendance to the school admissions department early in the semester, Racic uses submission of the first MyLab assignment as confirmation of participation. Additionally, Racic integrates MyLab with Blackboard, the school’s learning management system. He provides very specific and detailed registration documents the first day of the course to ensure students have the most current and accurate information for linking to MyLab through Blackboard.
Students complete the following MyLab assignments for each chapter:
- Pre-test: students complete a pre-built quiz comprised of five multiple-choice questions that assess their conceptual understanding of chapter content. These quizzes do not count toward the grade, but students must earn a minimum of 50 percent before they can begin the homework assignment. Racic intentionally keeps the minimum score low so that students who struggle with the chapter content on their own don’t get too frustrated before attempting the homework problems.
- Homework exercises: these practice assignments containing numeric problems cover all chapter learning objectives. Three to five, multi-step, algorithmically-generated problems comprise the assignment, and students are given three attempts per problem. Learning aids are turned on. In the end-of-semester survey, 58 percent of students reported that they always or usually utilized the learning aids when unable to start or complete a problem.
- Dynamic Study Modules (DSM): the questions continuously assess student performance and activity, using data and analytics to provide personalized feedback that targets the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses in real-time.
- Chapter quiz: quizzes consist of multiple-choice and true-false questions and several multi-part problems. Students have two attempts and 45 minutes for completion.
- Study plan: the study plan monitors student performance on homework and exams and continuously makes recommendations based on their performance, providing customized remediation activities to get students back on track. Racic makes the study plan optional, but on the end-of-semester survey, 50 percent of students confirmed they utilized features of the study plan.
On the end-of-semester survey, students reported success using the various MyLab tools.
- 100 percent of students strongly agreed or agreed that the test-review-retest pattern of the Dynamic Study Modules helped them to learn and remember chapter content.
- 71 percent of students strongly agreed or agreed that the use of confidence levels in the DSM (‘I am sure’, ‘I am partially sure’, ‘I don’t know yet’) helped them identify chapter content they needed to focus on.
- 50 percent of students used the optional study plan for additional practice and to identify chapter content they were struggling with.
Students also commented on the DSM and study plan on the survey:
- “Without the study plan, I would not have done as well as I did. The study plan was great because I do problems over and over until I get it.”
- “I used the study plan for chapters where I needed extra practice. It was nice having extra problems to solve.”
- “The Dynamic Study Modules helped me know what I needed to review before taking the chapter exams.”
- “When I answered something wrong [in the Dynamic Study Modules], the explanations on why my answer was wrong were very helpful.”
I liked the ‘check my answer’ option when completing homework assignments. It was good to know whether or not I was on the correct road to finding the answer!Student survey response
Racic encourages MyLab adopters to keep future assignments closed, so students only see the current work that is due. It can be overwhelming to see every assignment the first week of class. Additionally, he offers a grace period for assignment due dates, but assesses a one-point penalty for each day an assignment is late. This system encourages students to stay current and on task; Racic maintains that a major reason students do not complete the course is because they fall behind. The grace period and late penalties encourage students to remain on schedule.
Six exams are given in MyLab, each covering 2–3 chapters. Exams are comprised of 20 multiple-choice questions divided equally among the chapters, which are pooled and randomized. Students have two attempts and 60 minutes for completion. Once open in MyLab, the exam must be completed. Exams are designed to assess student understanding and insight into the chapter concepts, not their ability to remember isolated facts. Exams may be taken prior to the due date; however, there is a 10 percent penalty for each day the exam is taken after the deadline.
Students also complete one long comprehensive problem which is due the last week of the semester. This problem is created by Racic and intended to assess students’ ability to create journal entries and follow the flow of the accounting cycle from ledger through financial statements and post-closing trial balance. The problem is completed in Excel using files available to students in Blackboard.
- 61% MyLab homework assignments
- 12% Dynamic Study Modules
- 12% MyLab exams (six)
- 12% MyLab quizzes
- 3% Comprehensive problem
Results and Data
Figures 1 through 3 are correlation graphs; correlations do not imply causation but instead measure the strength of a relationship between two variables, where r is the correlation coefficient. The closer the r value is to 1.0, the stronger the correlation. The corresponding p-value measures the statistical significance/strength of this evidence (the correlation), where a p-value <.05 shows the existence of a positive correlation between these two variables.
- A strong positive correlation exists between average MyLab homework assignment score and average Dynamic Study Module score, where r=.63 and p<.05.
- A strong positive correlation exists between average MyLab homework score and average MyLab quiz score, where r=.61 and p<.05.
- A very strong positive correlation exists between average MyLab quiz score and average exam score, where r=.81 and p<.05.
For students, the formative MyLab homework assignments are intended to help them identify where they are in terms of successfully completing the summative exams; it appears that performance on these assignments could be a leading indicator of course success (additional research is needed to develop and test this concept further).
Grade distribution data for students showing mastery of course content by earning an A, B, or C quiz and exam average indicate that these students also earned higher Dynamic Study Module scores (figure 4).
- Students who earned A, B, or C average quiz score had Dynamic Study Module scores 18 percentage points higher than students who earned D or F quiz averages.
- Students who earned A, B, or C average exam grade had Dynamic Study Module scores 20 percentage points higher than students who earned D or F exam averages.
Correlation between average MyLab homework score and average Dynamic Study Module score
Figure 1. Correlation between Average MyLab Homework Score and Average Dynamic Study Module Score, Spring 2016 (n=57)
Correlation between average MyLab score and average quiz score
Figure 2. Correlation between Average MyLab Assignment Score and Average MyAccountingLab Quiz Score, Spring 2016 (n=57)
Correlation between average MyLab quiz score and average exam score
Figure 3. Correlation between Average MyLab Quiz Score and Average Exam Score, Spring 2016 (n=57)
Average Dynamic Study Module score and average quiz and exam score
Figure 4. Relationship between Average Dynamic Study Module Score and Average Quiz and Exam Score, Spring 2016 (n=57)
The study plan exercises were very helpful in learning the subject.Student survey response
The Student Experience
Responses from the Spring 2016 end-of-semester, voluntary survey of Racic’s students (42 percent response rate) indicate that the majority of responding students recognize the value of MyLab.
- 96 percent of students strongly agree (63 percent) or agree that their understanding of the course material increased as a result of using MyLab.
- 100 percent of students strongly agree (58 percent) or agree that MyLab provided additional resources that helped them learn more than they would have from more traditional paper-and-pencil homework.
- 92 percent of students strongly agree or agree that the use of MyLab positively impacted their exam scores.
- 96 percent of students strongly agree or agree that they would recommend MyLab to another student.
Student survey responses to the question, “What did you like most about MyLab?” include:
- “What I liked most is when working on homework problems I had the option of ‘Help Me Solve This’. It really made a difference when trying to understand what the book was showing me. It offered a different type of example.”
- “I liked the Dynamic Study Modules and homework assignments as these contributed greatly to my understanding of the material.”
- “I liked the ‘check my answer’ option when completing homework assignments. It was good to know whether or not I was on the correct road to finding the answer!”
- “The study plan exercises were very helpful in learning the subject.”
Racic has used several different digital technology programs in his Financial Accounting course over the years, and while they all provide a platform meant to achieve a similar goal of helping students succeed, he has found that the learning aids in MyLab had a greater impact on his students than other programs he recently used. Students also commented favorably about the learning aids on the end-of-semester survey, with many specifically mentioning the benefits of the “Help Me Solve This” feature. A common theme in the student comments surfaced—support at the moment the student was struggling. As one student said, “If I got stumped on a homework assignment, the Help Me Solve This option gave me a better understanding of how to do the problem.” Adding the Dynamic Study Modules to the MyLab assignments provided an additional layer of support that the majority of students also appreciated and found to be beneficial when studying for exams. Racic plans to evaluate his usage of MyLab and may continue to make changes as new features are added in the future.