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Publisher Building Blocks Provide Feedback to Students


If you are using or planning to use a textbook in your course from McGraw-Hill, Pearson, or John Wiley & Sons, and are looking for ways to give your students the problem-solving practice they need without burying yourself in homework problems and tests to grade, consider taking advantage of one of the interactive digital teaching and learning solutions now available in CourseWeb:

  • McGraw-Hill’s “Connect”
  • Pearson’s MyLab & Mastering
  • John Wiley & Sons’ WileyPLUS

Each of these solutions provides a framework for you to make your CourseWeb course a single sign-on gateway to multimedia learning environments created specifically for guided, productive learning activities.  These activities may include algorithmic exercise assignments,, interactive training with immediate student feedback, online video resources to augment classroom instruction, and adaptive learning, where the tools adjust assignments to meet specific student learning needs.  These solutions also offer opportunities to automate and improve the grading process for assigned homework, and analytical capabilities to assess topics and subject areas where students have the most difficulty in mastering learning objectives.

Here’s an example from Pearson’s MyOMLab product, part of the MyLab & Mastering suite:


When students clicks on the green dot in the calendar (above), they are taken to a screen for completing the assignment:


Clicking on the link for Problem 1.1 (above) takes them to a homework exercise.  When they enter their answer and click on the “Check Answer” button, they get feedback on their work.


In this case (above), the answer is correct and the student can continue.

In the example below, there is a second part to the problem.  If the student answers incorrectly, they get immediate feedback to guide them to the correct response:


One of the criticisms of electronic textbooks is that their electronic search capabilities discourage students from reading the materials presented in a linear fashion, and in the process, remove essential context from the learning process.  Interactive, algorithmic computer-based exercises, available to students essentially 24/7 and coupled with instant feedback linked to textbook and multimedia resources, can enrich the student experience  when systems guide students to explore topics where their knowledge and understanding need improvement before grades are attached to performance.

Because they scale very well, these tools are well-suited to introductory courses traditionally given in a large lecture format.  Adding additional students to courses that use these tools does not  increase instructor load.  Students benefit because the study aids are available almost any time and any place that they have an Internet connection.  Publishers benefit because they achieve 100% e-textbook sales in the courses where they are employed, with minimal printing, distribution and marketing costs, and marginal costs of production are nearly zero.  Under this cost model, where multiple publishers compete for students, the costs of providing these services should fall and the quality of the services should improve over time, barring collusion.

Learning results from interactions.  Students who use these resources may come to class better prepared than they would by simply reading a traditional textbook, as they will have had opportunities to interact with the subject matter in a richer way.  Teachers who spend less time grading can spend more time teaching.

If you would like to learn more about these digital teaching and learning solutions, please contact the Educational Technology Center at 412-648-2832 or etc@cidde.pitt.edu.

By Kevin Craig, CIDDE