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Providing Academic Support to Diverse Student Populations
Positive impacts seen in students using Smarthinking
Griffith University is the 9th largest higher education provider in Australia, with five campuses in Queensland. Serving over 43,000 students from around the world, Griffith University is in the forefront of higher education, offering over 300 degrees, ranging from the humanities to engineering to the arts.Download PDF
Griffith University has a diverse student population spread across five campuses in Queensland, Australia. To address the challenges of providing academic support services to students of varying levels of preparation and abilities, Griffith turned to Smarthinking to provide online tutoring services. The goal was to increase student success in the classroom as well as improve student retention.
Griffith developed a pilot program in Spring 2010 to offer Smarthinking services to students in high attrition classes. Participation was voluntary, and 2,171 students ultimately used Smarthinking in the pilot. Griffith provided training to staff and included face-to-face orientation to students.
To assess the impact of Smarthinking, Griffith University developed an online survey instrument, gauging student participation as well as reaction to Smarthinking’s online tutoring. Students rated their Smarthinking experience highly, with 85% stating that Smarthinking made a positive difference to their overall course performance. 72% of Smarthinking users would use Smarthinking again, and 88% rated Smarthinking helpful or very helpful.
In addition to usage and student satisfaction, student grades were also analyzed. In 2010, grades for Smarthinking users were compared to students in the same courses who did not use the service, medium to strong positive impacts were observed. Students became better writers and experienced an increase in confidence resulting from improved grades.
Smarthinking’s Online Writing Lab was popular with all students, including the ESL Essay Center for non-native English speaking students.
Based on the pilot’s success, Griffith has increased student access to Smarthinking to include international students taking the Griffith English Enhancement Course as well as to a broader group of students covered under Australia’s Widening Participation Project.
"The trial raised awareness of legitimate online academic tutoring possibilities, and it appears, statistically and anecdotally, to have raised the grade levels of Smarthinking users as opposed to non-users in most targeted courses."
"Changing the Game: The Smarthinking Experience", K.H. Ashford-Rowe, D.J. Howarth, 2011, page 7.
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