MyITLab® in MyLabsPlus™ educator study evaluates Grader Project scores and quiz and exam scores at Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

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MyLab IT in MyLabsPlus educator study evaluates Grader Project scores and quiz and exam scores at Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

Key Findings

  • Data show strong, positive correlations of MyLab IT Grader Project and MyLab IT quiz scores, as well as MyLab IT quiz and final exam scores.
  • Students who completed all MyLab IT Excel and Access Grader Project assignments earned higher final exam scores than students who skipped at least one Grader Project assignment.
  • MyLabsPlus, connected to the IPFW learning management system, enabled the instructors and administrators to centrally manage and enroll hundreds of students easily and quickly across multiple MyLab IT sections.

School name
Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), Fort Wayne, IN

Course name
The Computer in Business

Course format

Course materials
MyLab IT with Microsoft Excel 2013 Comprehensive and Microsoft Access 2013 Comprehensive, Exploring Series, by Poatsy, Mulbery, and Davidson

Spring 2016

Cynthia Wilson, Continuing Lecturer

Results reported by
Candace Cooney, Pearson Customer Outcomes Analytics Manager


  • Locale: four-year, public, Great Lakes suburban institution
  • Enrollment: more than 13,000 students
  • Student-faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Class size: 81 percent with fewer than 30 students
  • Retention rate: 64 percent
  • Gender: 55 percent female
  • Average age: 24
  • Race/ethnicity: 82 percent white, 10 percent Latino/African-American

About the Course

Instructor Cynthia Wilson has been teaching since 2000, becoming full-time in 2010, and has been teaching The Computer in Business course at IPFW since 2007. The Computer in Business is a one-semester, three-credit course enrolling approximately 250 students each year. It is required of all business majors and may be taken by other students outside the College of Business. This course provides an intermediate level of instruction for Microsoft Office Excel 2013 and Access 2013 by immersing students in realistic business scenarios. The course provides an orientation to spreadsheet and database design from an end-user/manager perspective. The class is primarily hands-on, helping students discover the underlying functionality of Excel and Access so they can become more productive in future classes, jobs and their personal life.

Challenges and Goals

Wilson and her colleagues had been using a digital course companion in the Microsoft Office courses for over three years before considering MyLab IT for adoption. Hand-grading of homework was the issue driving adoption of a digital program initially, but a growing need to provide detailed student and course reporting led Wilson to find a program with robust administrative and reporting tools that would enable her to scale their program and manage increasingly larger numbers of students. MyLab IT in MyLabsPlus also offered her a platform with its own learning management system, giving her a self-contained program that included a gradebook, document posting capabilities, discussion board options, and a single registration sign-in for students to eliminate the need for multiple passwords. MyLab IT in MyLabsPlus was adopted for all sections in 2011.


MyLab IT is required; the program is used primarily by students working at home on a personal computer. Students use MyLab for understanding content, working on office programs in the application, and testing. Wilson’s goals for assigning work in MyLab are to 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, Wilson’s role is to assign content, homework, and assessments in MyLab and provide support and remote monitoring to students using the program at home. As course coordinator, Wilson uses the coordinator course functionality to create the course content that all other instructors utilize and she conducts adjunct training for MyLabsPlus as well.

IPFW recognized the importance of investing in digital technology and integrating digital course materials into their curriculum. To avoid the problems associated with students not purchasing materials prior to the start of classes, IPFW partnered with Follett Corporation and Pearson Learning Solutions to implement IncludED®, an initiative that delivers all required print and digital course materials to students as part of their tuition or course fees, and MyLabsPlus, an enhanced version of the MyLabs that allows for large scale student registration and immediate access to digital content. This allowed IPFW to better leverage their use of Blackboard, the school Learning Management System, and ensure a more seamless start-up experience for students. Once a student registered for the course, they were auto-enrolled in Wilson’s section and received instant access to MyLab IT in MyLabsPlus prior to the first day of class. Not only did students realize cost savings for new course materials, they had simpler, immediate access to the digital course content. On a voluntary, end-of-semester Spring 2016 survey, students commented on their experience with the program:

  • 98 percent of students strongly agreed (63 percent) or agreed that they appreciated having the cost of MyLab IT into the course lab fee and not having to purchase additional course materials at the beginning of the semester.
  • 100 percent of students strongly agreed (70 percent) or agreed that they appreciated being able to link directly to MyLab IT through Blackboard without need for a separate log-in and password.
  • 100 percent of students strongly agreed (70 percent) or agreed that they were able to start working on MyLab IT assignments on the first day of the semester.

Students complete one assignment per week in MyLab IT. Although only Grader Projects are required, Wilson explains and encourages students to use the other features available in the program. Student videos review the hands-on techniques covered in the chapter and audio PowerPoints highlight the important chapter concepts. Simulation Trainings are strongly recommended, as they include a visual opportunity to practice the Excel and Access commands. Learning aids–Read, Watch, and Practice–are turned on to provide just-in-time help. Wilson reports that students who complete the Simulation Trainings find them helpful, and while they are optional, her students confirm that they found these resources to be an important part of the course on the end-of-semester survey.

  • 42 percent of students always or usually worked through the Simulation Trainings before attempting the required Grader Projects.
  • 57 percent of students who used the Simulation Trainings always or usually utilized the learning aids when they did not know how to proceed with an assignment.

Survey comments included:

  • “The Simulation Trainings were the best part of MyLab IT, especially the practice feature that walks through the confusing requirements step by step. The ability to use the practice feature multiple times was extremely helpful in remembering everything.”
  • “I really benefited from the practice Simulation Trainings with the learning aids! I would have been unable to complete the course assignments without completing the practice beforehand.”

Grader Projects are the only required, graded assignment in MyLab IT and Wilson designates a firm due date. If the Grader Project is turned in prior to the due date, students are given a second attempt at completion to improve their score, if desired, as long as the second attempt is also submitted before the due date. The highest score is recorded in the gradebook. Late assignments incur a ten percent per day penalty, but cannot be handed in more than three days late. Additionally, Wilson warns students of MyLab IT’s ability to flag integrity violations; a violation could result in a student earning a 0 for the Grader Project assignment.

Wilson anticipates that students will spend approximately three hours per week working in MyLab IT not including quizzes or exams. Her students confirmed this on the end-of-semester survey (90 percent response rate)51 percent of students said they spent 2–3 hours per week working in MyLab IT, 25 percent of students said they spent 3–4 hours per week working inMyLab IT, and an additional five percent of students said they spent four or more hours working in the program.

Quizzes and exams are administered online in MyLab IT. Quizzes are open book and consist of approximately ten multiple-choice and true-false questions created from the Simulation Trainings and the Pearson test bank. Students have one attempt for completion and they are not timed. Exams are comprised of 30 multiple-choice and true-false questions as well as an exercise similar to a Grader Project. They cover application objectives, are pooled and randomized, and created using the Pearson test bank. They are not timed and students have one attempt at completion.


  • 60% MyLab IT Excel and Access final exams (2)
  • 30% MyLab IT Grader Projects
  • 10% MyLab IT quizzes

Results and Data

Students were divided into two groups based on the average number of MyLab IT Grader Projects they completed. Students who completed all Grader Projects earned higher average exam scores than students who did not complete all MyLab IT Grader Projects (figure 1).

  • Average number of MyLab IT Grader Projects skipped: <1
  • Students who completed all MyLab IT Grader Projects had average Excel exam scores 11 percentage points higher and Access exam scores two percentage points higher than students who did not complete all Grader Projects.
  • 68 percent of students completed all MyLab IT Grader Projects.

Figures 2 and 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 IT Grader Project scores and average exam scores, where r=.72 and p<.05.
  • A strong positive correlation exists between MyLab IT Access quiz scores and MyLab IT final exam scores where r=.56 and p<.05.

For students, the formative MyLab IT 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). As a best practice, MyLab IT homework grades are intended to help Wilson identify students early on who are challenged and might be at risk of poor overall course performance. Using weighted cells in the gradebook, Wilson isolates students at week two who are struggling and connects with them to offer assistance. At the semester midterm, she again uses the gradebook to detect students in jeopardy of failing, and offers support for what they must do to pass the course or suggests the option of withdrawing as the drop deadline approaches.

MyLab IT Grader Project completion and exam score


Figure 1: Relationship between Average MyLab IT Grader Project Completion and Average Exam Score, Spring 2016 (n=36)

MyLab IT Grader Project Excel score and quiz score


Figure 2: Correlation between Average MyLab IT Excel Grader Project Score and Average MyLab IT Excel Quiz Score, Spring 2016 (n=36)

MyLab IT Access quiz score and final exam score


Figure 3. Correlation between MyLab IT Access Quiz Scores and MyLab IT Final Exam Scores, Spring 2016 (n=36)

The Student Experience

Responses from the spring 2016 end-of-semester, voluntary survey of Wilson’s students (90 percent response rate) indicate that the majority of responding students recognize the value of MyLab IT.

  • 94 percent of students strongly agree or agree that their understanding of the course material increased as a result of using MyLab IT.
  • 93 percent of students strongly agree or agree that MyLab IT provided additional resources that helped them learn more than they would have from more traditional paper and pencil assignments.
  • 94 percent of students strongly agree or agree that the use of MyLab IT positively impacted their exam scores.
  • 94 percent of students strongly agree or agree that they would recommend MyLab IT to another student taking this course.

Student survey responses to the question, “What did you like most about MyLab IT?” include:

  • “When I got stuck on a question, I would go to the Simulation Training to try to get a better understanding of the question.”
  • “I liked the hands-on activities instead of reading and trying to comprehend all the material. Since I’m a visual learner, it was nice that I could read ahead of time, and then come to class and do a visual exercise to help me understand the material better.”
  • “I liked that the Grader Projects told me what was wrong (mainly the feedback with comments) then I could usually figure it out after being told why it was wrong.”
  • “I enjoyed the Simulation Trainings. Without them, I would be completely lost in the course.”
  • “I liked the summary report after the first attempt, because I knew where I made a mistake and I could then go back and fix it.”
  • “MyLab IT helped me on the tests!”
  • “I felt the information MyLab IT taught me I will actually be able to use in the workplace.”


MyLabsPlus has eliminated many of the early semester access code and registration issues that troubled Wilson and her students prior to its implementation. Significant time was wasted dealing with incorrect access code issues and students who had not yet purchased access to the online course content and textbooks. Wilson found herself spending the first two weeks of the course dealing with emails and technical support issues that were keeping her students from getting an immediate start on their assignments. With MyLabsPlus, her students were able to begin assignments immediately, eliminating the possibility of falling behind before they got started.


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