Students Benefit from Technology in the Classroom

In 2010, as a part of the Year of eLearning, the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s (OCIO) Digital Union implemented the Departmental Impact Grant in order to leverage the impact of technology in large enrollment courses. The first Impact Grant recipients were the Chemistry and Mathematics departments. Pilot courses were taught during autumn 2010 and students reported that technology helped them learn the subjects better resulting in higher GPAs.

The Impact Grant is a yearlong collaboration where the Office of the CIO’s Digital Union, which provides financial and eLearning expertise, and department representatives focus on improvement opportunities in a core departmental course (e.g., General Education, required for major, large enrollment).

The inherent cascading design of the grant affords the opportunity to build instructor and staff self-efficacy in tandem with increasing student participation and positive learning experiences from using technology. This confluence of activity helps promote effective and sustainable change throughout many other departmental courses.

Christopher Hadad, professor of Chemistry and vice chair for Undergraduate Studies, said, “The Digital Union Impact Grant that the Chemistry department received resulted in dramatic changes in Chemistry 161 during autumn quarter 2010, and should be the impetus for continued innovations for several years to come.”

Hadad said Rosemary Bartoszek-Loza and Assistant Professor Ted Clark focused on enhancing Chemistry 161, which enrolls students majoring in Chemistry. The course was re‐designed to combine lecture and recitation while maintaining the laboratory component. During the Impact Grant project period, in and out of class activities were created, simulation-based learning activities were identified, and assessment criteria were established.

Findings included:

  • 95% of students favored the technology enhanced course over a traditional Chemistry course
  • The computer simulations received an 85% approval rating
  • An overall 90% attendance rate average in the technology enhanced course (versus 60%-95% range in traditional course)
  • Post-test scores were significantly higher in technology enhanced course
  • A very significant improvement occurred in reducing Chemistry misconceptions with virtually no improvement in traditional course.


The Mathematics Impact Grant project restructured the instruction format for two sections of Math 151.01 and Math 152.01. Using the SMART Podium, Camtasia (screen recording software), visualization applets, and a homegrown audience response system, the team was able to increase student engagement and create easier to access, more interactive course activities. Further, the math team afforded students anytime/anyplace opportunities to review lecture materials.

The main goal of the project was to improve the student experience in the large lectures of Math 151.01 and Math 152.01. Overall, the goals were achieved, but there were some technology issues early on that were eventually resolved.

Findings included:

  • A significantly lower drop rate for the technology enhanced course
  • A higher GPA for the technology enhanced sections (two piloted sections ranked first and third out of seven sections)
  • 89% of students said the technology improved lecture clarity
  • 87% of students said, if given choice, they would take a technology enhanced course
  • 76% of students said the technology allowed them to better understand calculus
  • 83% of students had a more favorable opinion of the math department due to the technology enhanced course

Learn more about these projects at The archive page includes links to videos, blog entries, and project reports and addenda providing additional insight into the findings our recipients discovered during their pilot. Further, come learn from the project leads during the Impact Grant breakout session at the April 27 Innovate Conference.

Finally, learn more about OCIO’s 2011 Impact Grant recipients, Histology (Anatomy) and Statistics, at

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