Volunteer State Community College
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Smarthinking Helps Improve Student Course Completion
Students using Smarthinking’s Online Writing Lab were 8 times more likely to successfully complete their course.
Founded in 1971 and located in northern Middle Tennessee, Volunteer State Community College has over 12,350 students (2010-2011), with the most popular majors being university parallel (designed for transfer), pre-allied health, and business. Volunteer State Community College is SACS accredited.Download PDF
Volunteer State Community College is one of 13 community colleges in the State of Tennessee. Serving over 12,350 students, Vol State has a diverse student population, with a significant number of first-generation college students. Over 50% of incoming students are tested into Learning Support courses in math, writing and reading. With new state rules basing funding on student outcomes, Vol State recognized that rapid improvement in student success was needed. After researching a number of student support services, Vol State entered into a partnership with Smarthinking to help improve course completion and student achievement.
In Spring 2010, Volunteer State Community College began a pilot program, offering Smarthinking to students in selected courses. Control groups were also selected to help measure the impact of Smarthinking’s online tutoring. Although open to all students, a very small number of students initially used Smarthinking. Faculty decided to continue the pilot in the Fall of 2010, but narrowed the study to only those courses with a writing component. Students were required to submit specific writing assignments to Smarthinking’s Online Writing Lab. Control sections were again used for comparison.
Results of the Fall 2010 pilot showed that Smarthinking users were 8 times more likely to successfully complete their courses than nonusers. Surveys showed that faculty and students valued Smarthinking and found it helpful.
Research into Smarthinking continued into the Spring 2011 semester with Smarthinking open to all students. Results showed that students increased their use of Smarthinking, with 86% of those students using Smarthinking’s Online Writing Lab. In a survey measuring user satisfaction, 94% of students said Smarthinking was “very easy” or “easy” to use and 88% said it was helpful. Seventy percent (70%) of faculty respondents found Smarthinking “very useful” or “useful.”
Volunteer State Community College intends to continue to offer Smarthinking to all students, concluding that Smarthinking is “a useful tool that increases our students’ chances of success.”
"Smarthinking has proven to be a valuable addition to our student support services. The documented increase in course success by students using the Online Writing Lab demonstrates that this resource makes a positive impact on student achievement and a valuable investment of resources."
Jim Hiett, Interim Vice-President for Academic Affairs
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