Reutlingen University (RU) is increasing student engagement outside of the lecture theatre through the creation of a bespoke personal online learning experience. MindTap from Cengage Learning combines textbook readings, multimedia, activities, and assessments into a single learning path which instructors can personalise by adding their own content.
Anna Goeddeke, Professor of Reutlingen University’s business school, uses the learning environment to add, remove and reorder content from course books and import content such as Word, PowerPoint and video. Her classes are comprised of 50% European students and 50% international students, so classes are taught in English. Anna was in the process of ordering electronic copies of the set text for her class when she heard about MindTap.
Anna hosts two 90-minute lectures on Microeconomics per week and often finds that first year students find it difficult to gauge the amount of preparation they should do at home to be able to follow the classes. She says: “The students sit in class and listen, but I find that often the first semester students find it difficult to understand and follow lessons because they don’t do enough preparation at home. They don’t understand the amount of preparation needed, and this often results in a proportion of students struggling to understand what is taught in class.”
Anna decided to use the virtual learning environment in a drive to encourage students to study at home throughout the semester and not just the last few days before the final exams.
MindTap also has an assessment function so that Anna can monitor the progress of her class. “I used the assessment feature as a mock exam and this helped me understand the students’ performance and the areas in which they need to do more work,” she explains.
MindTap reflected the way that Anna wanted to teach. She said: “I don’t always stick 100% to the textbook when I am teaching. I often bring in different materials as examples. This is reflected in MindTap as I can remove and reorder content from within the book and present it to my students in the way that I want.”
At the end of the semester, Anna’s international business students took part in a survey which found that 78% would recommend the use of MindTap to their friends, and 95% said they were more engaged with the coursework after using MindTap.
The survey also found that 94% learned more than they would have done without the learning platform and that it greatly contributed to their understanding of the subject.
Interaction and motivation
Anna concludes: “My hope was that my students would prefer an online textbook solution with interactive exercises to a printed book and weekly written assignments. MindTap proved to be a good solution that provided the necessary interaction for the students and therefore motivated them to study at home throughout the semester.”