An online tool helped Siena College's Paul Thurston pinpoint student weaknesses.

Undergraduate professors employ myriad techniques to motivate their students to arrive prepared for active discussion. Despite our efforts, students often fall well short of our preparation expectations and struggle themselves with assessing their own course progress.

This is most problematic in survey or introductory courses that present an entirely new vocabulary of terms, the comprehension of which is critical to student achievement. Fortunately, adaptive learning tools are now available for many higher-education courses that can help professors address this problem.

These tools provide guidance for students by keeping them on an individualized path for success.

Over the past two fall academic semesters, I have incorporated McGraw-Hill’s Connect and emphasized the use of its adaptive learning tool, LearnSmart, in my Organization and Management course.

Through this experience I found that an adaptive learning tool such as LearnSmart, combined with the right emphasis on extrinsic and intrinsic rewards, yields optimal learning outcomes.

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