REVEL educator study examines success and retention rates at Coastal Bend College

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

Key Findings

  • Success rates for this course increased from an average of 71.8 percent before the implementation of Revel to 86.7 percent after Revel implementation. Retention rates also increased.
  • By engaging with course information outside of class and analyzing that information through class discussion, students learned how to form their own judgments while developing important critical thinking and communication skills.

School name
Coastal Bend College, Alice, TX

Course name
US History Since 1865

Course format
Face-to-face, Hybrid, Online, Distance Learning

Course materials
Revel for American Stories: A History of the United States by Brands

Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Summer 2015

Submitted by
J. Karl Clark, Professor


Coastal Bend College is a public community college serving a diverse South Texas population. Many students come from low socioeconomic backgrounds and work at least part-time in addition to taking classes. As a rural community, 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

To understand the events of today’s world, knowledge of the past is essential. This course focuses on United States history from the Civil War to today and is designed to meet the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s core objectives: critical thinking skills, communication skills, social responsibility, and personal responsibility. The course is taken by a wide range of majors. Distance learning sections often include dual-enrollment high school students.

Challenges and Goals

The role of the textbook is to teach the basic facts. My role as the instructor is to elaborate on what my students should have read in the textbook before coming to class and to provide context. Students learn to form their own opinions and to articulate those opinions when they are able to comprehend and analyze the material they are studying. In the real world, after college, students will need to be able to express their opinions and articulate their thoughts.

Before Revel, my students were not reading the assigned textbook. As a result, they were not coming to class prepared and were unable to participate. Many students also lacked the critical thinking skills needed to engage in meaningful discussions, both online and face-to-face.

To help my students develop these essential critical thinking and communication skills, I needed to find a way to engage them outside of class, which is why I decided to implement Revel. With Revel, the information is broken down by learning objective. Students read a little and are then presented with a video, a map, or a question, allowing them to stop and think about what they just read. I value the personal responsibility that Revel fosters in my students. Students know if they are understanding the material and can easily track their progress throughout the semester.


In the past, I would ask students to read their printed textbook and then complete chapter quizzes within Blackboard which were worth 25 percent of their grade. I still assign reading and quizzes, but a few key things have changed. With Revel, students aren’t just reading, they are actively engaging with the chapter. Students now read, interact, and answer quiz questions tied to specific learning objectives, all in one place. In addition, because I can see how much time students are spending on their reading assignments in Revel, I can require it. Revel assignments, worth 25 percent of students’ overall course grade, are due before each class. Revel quizzes are set so that students get up to three attempts per question. Each question is worth up to three points, decreasing with each incorrect attempt.

I follow the same structure for each of the course formats I teach, including face-to-face, hybrid, online, and distance learning. Each week we have one lecture class and one discussion class. During my lecture, I present my notes and opinions, I show a video clip that provide another person’s interpretation, and then students do the reading in Revel and encounter even more points of view. Revel assignments are due before the discussion class. On discussion day, I ask students to talk about the reading and share their personal points of view regarding the topics they read about in Revel.

Benefits Observed

  • Because Revel is affordable and can be assigned, I can hold students accountable for the reading.
  • Students are more engaged in the course overall. Class discussions are deeper and more students are participating—twenty students raise their hands instead of four or five.
  • By engaging with the information outside of class and participating in discussions in class or online, students develop important critical thinking and communication skills.
  • By earning points and tracking their progress throughout the course, students develop a sense of personal responsibility.


  • 50% Exams (3 unit exams, 1 final exam)
  • 25% Revel
  • 15% Assignments (essays, discussions)
  • 10% Orientation activity

Results and Data

Since implementing Revel, more students are completing the course, and a greater percentage of those students are succeeding. Using Revel, my students developed a better understanding of topics covered in the course. I believe that completing weekly Revel assignments, and analyzing the information through class discussion and writing assignments, has led to improved performance in the course.

  • A chi-square test of independence was performed to examine the relation between success and fail rates, and pre- (Fall 2014) and post- (Fall 2014–Summer 2015) Revel implementation. Success rates are the percentage of students who registered for the course and earned a final course grade of A, B, or C. Fail rates are the percentage of students who registered for the course and earned a final course grade of D, F, W (withdrawal), Q (quit after official withdrawal date), or I (incomplete). The relationship between these variables was significant, (1)=20.2, p<.05. It should be noted that Revel assignments accounted for 25 percent of the final course grade, influencing this association. Before Revel, 25 percent of the course grade came from quizzes based on assigned reading. Academic success rates increased from 71.8 percent before the implementation of Revel to an average of 86.7 percent after Revel was implemented (figure 1).
  • A chi-square test of independence was performed to examine the relation between completion and incompletion rates and pre- (Fall 2014) and post- (Fall 2014–Summer 2015) Revel implementation. The relation between these variables was significant, X²(1)=20.97, p<.05. Retention rates increased from 89.3 percent before the implementation of Revel to an average of 97 percent after Revel implementation (figure 2). 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. Incompletion rate is the percentage of students who do not complete the course and receive a W, Q, or I.

Success rates without Revel and with Revel

Figure 1. Success Rates without Revel, Fall 2014 (n=131) vs. with Revel, Fall 2014 (n=34); Spring 2015 (n=409); Summer 2015 (n=139)

Retention rates without and with Revel

Figure 2. Retention Rates without Revel; Fall 2014 (n=131) vs. with Revel; Fall 2014 (n=34); Spring 2015 (n=409); Summer 2015 (n=139)

The Student Experience

In an end-of-semester survey (Spring and Summer 2015), I asked students to share their feedback on how Revel has impacted their learning. Student feedback has been positive. They especially liked Revel’s streamlined design, and many found the chapter audio and highlighting features helpful. Other student comments include:

  • “Revel makes learning easier and doesn’t have unnecessary information.”
  • “I wouldn’t have comprehended the lessons as well without Revel.”
  • “Using Revel has made it easier to understand what I am reading and what I need to know.”
  • “Revel kept me on my toes because I was aware that assignments were due on certain days and that I needed to finish before the time was up or the assignment would not be accessible.”
  • “I really like that Revel breaks chapters down into small sections. The interactive nature of having quizzes throughout the chapter helps in retaining information.”
  • “Revel has impacted my learning in this course because I learned to read more effectively to do well on quizzes.”
  • “It has taught me that I need to be more responsible with my assignments and try to stay focused when reading.”

Students were also asked to share any best practices that could benefit other students using Revel for the first time:

  • “Log in to Revel every day so you won’t forget when to do your assignments.”
  • “Make sure you take your time and actually read because the quizzes are pretty tough.”
  • “Make sure to take notes as you go. Make them simple and easy for you to understand when you go back to them. Use the highlighting options because they do help.”
  • “I recommend listening to the textbook (Revel) being read aloud—it is a useful resource and makes learning much easier.” “If you listen to the audio book, skim the page first to see any graphics, pictures, or videos.”

Watch: Revel helps a student with dyslexia succeed in college


For years, I didn’t know if my students were completing their reading assignments. With Revel, I can see if a student read the chapter and how much time they spent reading it, and I can assign a grade based on reading completion. Going forward, I plan to explore additional ways to improve students’ critical thinking and communication skills through Revel writing assignments.

In addition to this US History course, I also use Revel in my American Government and State Government courses. My implementation and observed results across all of these courses have been very similar: The success rate in my pre-Revel courses was 80 percent and the analysis that I have done thus far on the last three semesters, the success rate in courses using Revel has risen, on average, four percentage points to 84 percent. To better understand what impact Revel may be having on student learning, I plan to continue collecting and analyzing data across all of my courses.

Since implementing Revel, more students are completing the course, and a greater percentage of those students are succeeding.

Since implementing Revel, more students are completing the course, and a greater percentage of those students are succeeding.


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