Revel educator study examines retention and pass rates at Minneapolis Community and Technical College

EDUCATOR STUDY

Revel educator study examines retention and pass rates at Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Key Findings

  • Course retention rates (students who complete the course with an A, B, C, D, or F) increased from an average of 63 percent to an average of 68 percent of students enrolled when Revel™ was required as a significant percentage of the overall course grade.
  • Average course pass rates for all students enrolled in the course (including incompletes and withdrawals) increased from an average of 45 percent to an average of 58 percent when Revel was required as a significant percentage of the overall course grade.
  • When Revel was required as a significant percentage of the overall course grade, pass rates for students who persisted in the course (did not withdraw) increased from an average of 74 percent to an average of 84 percent.

School name
Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Minneapolis, MN

Course name
Introduction to Music

Course format
Hybrid

Course materials
Revel for Listen to This by Bonds

Timeframe
Fall 2014-Fall 2016

Educator
Elizabeth Pauly, Instructor

Results reported by
Stephanie Fritson, Pearson Customer Outcomes Analytics Manager

Setting

Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) is a public two-year college located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, MN. MCTC enrolls nearly 15,000 credit students annually and is an active partner in initiatives designed to strengthen the social, economic and cultural vitality of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. (http://www.minneapolis.edu/About-Us)

MCTC is one of 31 colleges and universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and offers more than 150 associate’s degrees, diplomas and certificates. Many MCTC programs transfer to four-year colleges while others prepare students for challenging careers. MCTC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges. The MCTC student population includes 26% first generation college students and 61% of students identifying as minorities. Sixty-six percent of MCTC students receive financial aid. (http://www.minneapolis.edu/About-Us/Fact-Sheet)

About the Course

Introduction to Music (MUSC 1000) provides an overview for anyone who appreciates music and wants a better understanding of musical styles. Students learn techniques for listening to and describing music through investigation of musical elements and exploration of the influence of musical context. Students study significant musical compositions from the Western European art tradition, as well as music from the world’s cultures and music that has originated in or had significant influence on music in the United States – in part to help contextualize new and unfamiliar forms, and in part to help sharpen listening skills. Students practice these skills through discussion, listening, reading, and writing. The course is taught in a hybrid format with one 75-minute class meeting per week and the remainder of the course activities taking place online.

Challenges and Goals

In 2013, Instructor Elizabeth Pauly redesigned the Introduction to Music course and implemented a hybrid course format. By implementing the hybrid course she aimed to increase the amount of time spent in class on learning activities that expanded upon what students could read in the textbook and ultimately enhance their understanding of the topics covered. She hoped the ability to focus on deeper learning activities in class would lead to improved student performance on assignments and increased pass and retention rates in the course. In a previous study, Pauly’s results indicated Revel scores and pop quiz scores increased when Revel was assigned as a larger percentage of the overall course grade. A very strong positive correlation existed between average scores on Revel Module Quizzes and average scores on Revel Chapter Quizzes. Pass and retention rates showed initial improvement but a consistent pattern could not be established with the available data. In subsequent semesters, Pauly continued to strive to improve course pass and retention rates and collected additional data to further evaluate the impact of Revel implementation on these metrics.

Implementation

Pauly initially began the flipped classroom process by implementing MyMusicLab. In Spring 2015, she decided to move to Revel because she believed Revel features offered better navigation, a more streamlined approach, and enhanced mobile capabilities for a better learning experience for students. She also liked the embedded videos and Listening Guides, along with the ease of assigning content.

When Pauly first implemented Revel in Spring 2015, Revel activities were assigned as extra credit. Students had the option of completing the Revel Module Quizzes for up to a 10 percent bonus to their overall grade, depending on the number of quizzes on which they earned an 80 percent or better. Pauly included a sliding scale on the syllabus detailing the number of successfully completed quizzes and bonus percentage awarded. In Fall 2015, Pauly significantly increased Revel’s contribution to the course overall grade in order to incentivize students to complete the Revel assignments and come to class prepared. Revel Module Quizzes accounted for 45 percent of the overall grade and Revel Chapter Quizzes contributed 15 percent toward the final grade. Pauly wanted her course to focus more on learning than on assessment, which is why the Revel Module Quizzes were worth more points than the Revel Chapter Quizzes. Pauly also used the Module Quizzes as formative assessments, allowing three attempts on each Revel Module Quiz with points being deducted after each incorrect attempt. Only one attempt was allowed on Revel Chapter Quizzes.

In addition to the Revel quizzes, in class pop quizzes were also given weekly. The Pop Quizzes generally used the quiz questions designed to measure listening skills embedded in the assigned reading for the week from REVEL Listen to This, but occasionally included questions from discussions or lecture material from class to reinforce listening skills. In-class activities consisted of a variety of learning projects, many involving group work. In-class work products were graded on a pass/fail basis. Pauly required a few additional assignments outside of class on the D2L learning management system aimed to either connect with work that was done in class or assist in the process of creating the final Share Your Music project. The final Share Your Music project included a five-minute presentation and four- to six-page paper.

Pauly used the Revel Performance Dashboard for early intervention with students who were falling behind or struggling in the course. She checked the Performance Dashboard to identify students who were earning low scores on Revel assignments or not completing the assignments, and then connected with those students after class or sent an email message.

Fall 2015 Assessments

  • 45%     Revel Assignments (including Module Quizzes)
  • 15%     Final Share Your Music Paper and Presentation
  • 10%     In-Class Activities
  • 10%     Outside of Class Assignments (excluding Revel)
  • 10%     Revel Chapter Quizzes
  • 10%     Pop Quizzes

Spring 2016 and Fall 2016 Assessments

  • 35%     Revel Assignments (including Module Quizzes)
  • 15%     Final Share Your Music Paper and Presentation
  • 15%     In-Class Activities
  • 15%     Revel Chapter Quizzes
  • 10%     Outside of Class Assignments (excluding Revel)
  • 10%     Pop Quizzes

Results and Data

Pauly aimed to improve the student retention rate in the course by implementing Revel. 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. Data analysis indicated an improvement in the student retention rate subsequent to the implementation of Revel in the course. The retention rate increased from an average of 63 percent before the implementation of Revel to an average of 68 percent after Revel was required (figure 1).

Course retention rates with and without Revel required as a component of final course grade

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Figure 1. Retention Rates without Revel Required, Fall 2014-Spring 2015 (n=73) vs. with Revel Required, Fall 2015-Fall 2016 (n=118)

Pauly also hoped to increase the overall pass rate (grades of A, B, or C) in the course. Data indicate the course pass rate improved from an average of 45 percent before the implementation of Revel to an average of 58 percent after REVEL was a required component of the course (figure 2).

Overall course pass rates with and without Revel required as a component of final course grade

Figure 2. Overall Course Pass Rates without Revel Required, Fall 2014-Spring 2015 (n=73) vs. with Revel required, Fall 2015-Fall 2016 (n=118)

Finally, in addition to overall course pass rates, which include students who withdrew from the course, Pauly also aimed to increase pass rates for students who completed the course. Pass rates for students who persisted in the course improved from an average of 73 percent prior to the implementation of Revel to an average of 84 percent after Revel was required (figure 3).

Percent of students who passed compared with those who persisted in the course

Figure 3. Overall Course Pass Rates without Revel Required, Fall 2014-Spring 2015 (n=45) vs. with Revel required, Fall 2015-Fall 2016 (n=80)

The Student Experience

Student quotes regarding the use of Revel on an end of semester course survey included:

  • “Revel is more digestible and enjoyable than a traditional text.”
  • “Revel is easily understandable.”
  • “Revel breaks everything down into manageable chunks.”
  • “Revel is fun to use.”

Conclusion

Pauly chose to use Revel in her Introduction to Music course with the goal of increasing the amount of time spent in class on learning activities to expand upon what students could read in the textbook and enhance their understanding of the topics covered. She believes after implementing Revel, students are making more connections between the reading and class discussions. In a previous educator study, pass and retention rates in the course initially increased significantly but there was not enough evidence to support a clear trend. In subsequent semesters, student retention and pass rates continued to increase indicating a trend in improved student performance with Revel usage.