Revel educator study examines American Government course success and retention rates at Coastal Bend College

EDUCATOR STUDY

Revel educator study examines American Government course success and retention rates at Coastal Bend College

Key Findings

  • Success rates (course grades of A, B, or C) increased from 79 percent prior to the implementation of Revel to an average of 84 percent after Revel was implemented.
  • 96 percent of student survey respondents reported completing their Revel reading assignments and quizzes before class often or very often.
  • 88 percent of student survey respondents reported asking questions or participating in class when Revel was used in the course.
  • 83 percent of student survey respondents reported that they were confident or very confident in their ability to think critically and analytically after using Revel.

School name
Coastal Bend College, Alice, TX

Course name
American Government

Course formats
Face to face and online

Course materials
Revel for Government in America by Edwards, Wattenberg, and Howell

Timeframe
Fall 2014 through Summer 2016

Educator
J. Karl Clark, Professor

Results reported by
Stephanie Fritson, Pearson Customer Outcomes Analytics Manager

Setting

Coastal Bend College is a public community college, enrolling approximately 5,000 students per year and serving a diverse South Texas area. Many students come from low socio-economic backgrounds and work at least part-time in addition to taking classes. The college is located in a rural community where a large number of students live off campus and have long commutes to class. Not all students have high speed internet access at home.

About the Course

The goal of American Government (GOVT 2305) is to familiarize students with the structures, functions, and processes of American government. Students explore the philosophical and historical roots of American politics, the three branches of government, and various political institutions like the media and political parties.

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Explain how government impacts daily life;
  • Recognize and evaluate the basic debates and issues in American government and American political history;
  • Explain and critically assess the formal and informal political institutions, and their respective roles, in American politics;
  • Identify and describe the key functions of the three branches of government; and
  • Assess the causes and consequences of different forms of political participation, and outline the ways in which individuals and groups can affect political outcomes in the United States.

Challenges and Goals

Professor Clark believes that, during class, the role of the instructor is to elaborate on the material presented in the text, while helping students to critically evaluate the information. For this learning process to work, students must read and understand the text prior to class. Clark believes it is imperative for students to possess the skills of reading comprehension and critical thinking to succeed beyond college. Prior to implementing Revel™ in his course, Clark found that his students were not reading the textbook before class and therefore were not prepared to actively participate in course activities and discussions. Many students also lacked the critical thinking and communication skills necessary to participate in meaningful discussions online or face to face, negatively impacting course success and retention rates.

Clark implemented Revel with the goal of improving student success and retention rates in the course. He aimed to increase students’ reading of the course material. He believed the way information in Revel is broken down by learning objective would encourage comprehension. Students read a little and are then presented with a video, map, or question, helping them to stop and think about what they just read. He also hoped to improve students’ critical thinking and analytical skills by engaging them in improved discussion subsequent to their reading and understanding the course material.

Implementation

Prior to implementing Revel, Clark would ask students to read their printed textbook and then complete chapter quizzes within Blackboard which were worth 25 percent of the final course grade. After implementing Revel, he continued to assign the chapter readings, but replaced the Blackboard quizzes with Revel module and chapter quizzes. Revel assignments were due before each class so students arrived at class prepared to discuss the material. Clark allowed students up to three attempts per Revel quiz question. Each question was worth three points and decreased by one point with each incorrect attempt. Clark found that Revel enabled students to read, interact with content, and answer quiz questions tied to specific learning objectives, all in one place. In addition, because he could see how much time students were spending on their reading assignments in Revel, he could require the reading as part of the final grade.

The structure for all of Clark’s courses was identical for face-to-face, hybrid, online, and distance education courses. Every week there was one lecture class and one discussion class. During the lecture, Clark presented his notes and opinions, showed a video clip that presented another person’s interpretation, and then students completed the reading in Revel and encountered additional points of view. Revel assignments were due before the discussion class. On discussion day, Clark asked students to discuss the reading and share their personal points of view. Discussion took place in the form of discussion board posts in the online courses. Clark also used the Performance Dashboard in Revel to monitor students’ progress and ensure they were completing the reading assignments.

In order to ensure students were completing the Revel readings and quizzes, Revel assignments accounted for 30 percent of the overall course grade. Clark initially implemented Revel in his American History course, (read the study here). He discovered that students were more likely to complete the Revel assignments when they contributed to a larger percentage of the overall course grade. Post-course student survey results (77 percent response rate) support Clark’s implementation practices. When students were asked, “During the past semester, how often have you completed Revel reading and quiz assignment before class?” 96 percent responded with very often or often. Eighty-eight percent of student respondents reported asking questions or participating in class often or very often, and 83 percent of student respondents reported feeling confident or very confident in their ability to think critically and analytically after using Revel.

Spring 2015–Summer 2016 Assessments

  • 50% Final exam
  • 30% Revel
  • 10% Discussion
  • 10% Orientation activity

Results and Data

Clark aimed to improve the student success rate (grades of A, B, or C) in the course by implementing Revel. Following Revel implementation, the academic success rate increased from an average of 79 percent to an average of 84 percent. Clark also hoped to increase the retention rate in the course. The retention rate (or completion rate) is the percentage of students who completed the course and received a grade of A, B, C, D, or F. After Revel was implemented, the retention rate increased from 95 percent to 96 percent (figure 1).

Course success and retention rates Fall 2014 through Summer 2016

Figure 1. Success and Retention Rates without Revel, Fall 2014 (n=475) vs. with Revel (N=1,124); Spring 2015 (n=524); Summer 2015 (n=117); Fall 2015 (n=53); Spring 2016 (n=199); Summer 2016 (n=231)

In addition, Revel was implemented in the course to ensure students were reading the assigned material prior to class, participating in class discussion, and improving critical thinking skills. Spring 2016 students were asked to complete a post-course student survey to share their feedback on how Revel impacted their learning. Student survey responses regarding the use of Revel in the course are included in figure 2.

Student survey responses regarding the use of Revel in the course

Figure 2. Student Survey Responses Regarding Impact of Revel, Spring 2016 (n=153)

The Student Experience

In Spring 2016, 77 percent of students enrolled in GOVT 2305 completed a voluntary, end-of-semester survey providing valuable insight regarding their experience using Revel in the course. In addition to the findings reported in the Results section above:

  • 92 percent of student survey respondents reported very often, often, or sometimes using what they learned from Revel assignments to complete a writing assignment.
  • 84 percent of student survey respondents reported that they very often, often, or sometimes highlighted or took notes on important information from Revel assignments.
  • 86 percent of student survey respondents reported being confident in their ability to learn on their own after using Revel.
  • 72 percent of student survey respondents reported that they were confident or very confident to speak clearly and effectively during class.

Student survey comments regarding their Revel experience included:

  • “It (Revel) was an easy and convenient form of learning. I loved how it could read to you rather than reading it on your own.”
  • “Revel has taken the information required to learn for this course and put it into a more simplistic form that is easier for college students to learn.”
  • “I was able to learn on my own time and able to understand things more clearly when a video was followed by some reading.”
  • “With the help of the assignments calendar it has helped me stay on task and finish the quizzes before the due date.”
  • “It has helped me understand the material better than any textbook would have.”
  • “Revel is very clear and ties in very well with what the instructor is teaching.”

Conclusion

Clark chose to implement Revel in GOVT 2305 with the goal of increasing course success and retention rates. He also aimed to increase the number of students coming to class having read the material and prepared for discussion. Finally, he hoped to improve students’ critical thinking skills. Analysis of course success and retention rates noted improvement in both metrics. Clark was able to use the Performance Dashboard in Revel to monitor student reading and ensure students were coming to class prepared. In addition, on a voluntary student survey, 96 percent of student respondents reported completing Revel reading and quiz assignments before attending class, and 88 percent reported participating in class. Clark has also noted improved critical thinking from his students, and 83 percent of student respondents who completed the post-course survey reported being confident or very confident in their ability to think critically and analytically after using Revel. Clark continues to use Revel in his courses and plans to make adjustments as necessary moving forward in order to ensure continued success.