Purdue University Professor’s Study Shows Sapling Learning Homework Tool Generated 1.3 Letter Grades Higher for Students

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Marc Loudon, Ph.D., Gustav E. Cwalina Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at Purdue University, and author of Organic Chemistry (Roberts and Company), measured the efficacy of Sapling Learning and student attitudes toward Sapling Learning’s online learning for Purdue University organic chemistry students.

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Loudon tested the use of Sapling Learning out of skepticism, choosing to ask his students to pay for online homework only after he had scientifically proven significant value.

Learning institutions face increased pressure to deliver higher standards of education to a greater number of students with ever tighter financial restrictions. In order to meet these demands, instructors and professors are turning to technology – the same technologies that are creating new patterns of social and intellectual interactions.

Because students are most engaged on their own “technological turf”, innovative instructors and professors are opting to develop authentic learning practices using multiple resources. Rather than relying purely on textbook-driven activities, they are integrating interactive digital learning experiences into their courses that mesh well with student's real-world expectations for higher level engagement through technology.

Educational software has come a long way from flat Q&A to the interactive digital learning experiences offered today. Online homework systems offer digital problem-solving practice and coaching that has been proven to be a more effective in terms of increasing student exam performance than the hand-graded paper-and-pencil homework of the past. Flexible, interactive simulations that can put students in virtual environments has facilitated the trend of high schools and universities moving labs online. As enrollments increase and lab space becomes premium, learning institutions can now capitalize on these trends and are now considering moving large service courses such as general chemistry and introductory physics online. The dramatic rise in the cost of textbooks, combined with the portable convenience and interactive potential of digital devices such as the iPad and new Android tablets, are reinvigorating e-textbooks as not simply a more portable and cheaper alternative to a printed textbook, but instead a superior instructional experience.

In January, U.S. News & World Report published an article that touted the benefits of digital and blended learning, titled “Your Professor, Your Computer and You” (http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2011/01/26/your-professor-your-computer-and-you). Out of skeptisism Marc Loudon, Gustav E. Cwalina Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at Purdue University and author of an Organic Chemistry textbook, conducted an efficacy study of the use of Sapling Learning, his online homework software of choice. The article reports Loudon’s findings as well as his astonishment at how engaged his students were when using Sapling Learning.

Loudon compared the performance of students who used Sapling Learning for most of their problem-solving practice (80% or greater) with those that used Sapling less. The students who used Sapling the most had 18% greater scores than students who did not, equivalent to a 1.3 letter grade difference (such as between a middle A and a C+).

Sapling Learning’s software includes rich, discipline-specific interactions far beyond simple multiple choice to enhance student problem-solving skills and comprehension. It is a powerful online learning system that advances student achievement while providing timely, accurate student and class performance information to the instructor. Sapling Learning can be accessed anytime through a Web browser, and provides students with real-time tutoring when they need help in the form of hints, feedback specific to misconceptions a student has, and detailed solutions.

For today’s students digital learning is natural and desired, and keeps them engaged and motivated. For professors and teachers, digital supplements open up new opportunities to make instruction and study more effective, more efficient, and personalized to the needs of the student. All of these factors increase student learning.

About Sapling Learning
Sapling Learning is a leading provider of interactive homework and assessment software for the Higher Education sciences. Since 2004, Sapling Learning has focused on providing students with rich, discipline specific interactions, such as molecule drawing and graphing, to promote engagement and comprehension in challenging problem-solving disciplines of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering. Sapling Learning provides instructors unprecedented flexibility to create and customize instructional content in an easy-to use, flexible, code-free environment. No other solution in the market provides the level of seamless integration of rich learning elements for both creating and learning scientific material.

For more information, visit http://www.saplinglearning.com

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