What is ASU/GFA?

Arizona State University’s (ASU) Global Freshman Academy (GFA) is a one-of-a-kind program aiming to make higher education more accessible and less intimidating for new students, ranging from “true” freshman transitioning from high school to non-traditional students returning to school after an extended break.

The program offers prospective students the opportunity to take the same courses as enrolled students – but online and without committing to full tuition. Through GFA, prospective students are given the opportunity to earn transferable ASU credit from anywhere in the world and pay tuition only if they earn the grade needed for credit.

Introducing Cerego

In 2015, GFA implemented Cerego’s adaptive learning platform into three introductory courses – Solar Systems Astronomy, Western Civilization, and Human Origins – to create a more seamless learning experience for students and faculty within this unique program. These courses were designed to build foundational knowledge early in students’ careers, a perfect fit with Cerego (building foundational knowledge on the path to mastery). While most online courses lack the level of student-teacher engagement provided from a typical in-person class, Cerego’s interactive sets provide students with a way to engage with the course beyond simply reading, watching video or listening to a lecture.

Student and Teacher Benefits

The ultimate goal of the partnership between ASU and Cerego is to provide students with a more efficient and effective learning experience, while enabling all students to learn at the appropriate pace. Cerego provides each student with a personalized Knowledge Bank, a leveled system of visualizing memory permanence that allows them to track their progression through the course. Armed with this information, students are able to stay engaged in their quest for mastery and better understand their individual learning journey.

Another important aspect of GFA’s integration is the ability to use Cerego’s mobile and desktop interfaces, which allow students to engage in the learning experience at different times of day. Cerego sends study notifications at the precise moment students need to study or review material in order to build long-term retention. Having the flexibility to access their material at the right time is essential for learning.

Professors also have access to a learning dashboard allowing them to track every student’s progress and understand what material they struggle with. This leads to a better understanding of individual student progress, as well as the class as a whole, helping instructors identify where content alterations are needed and when to intervene with individual students. In this way, Cerego is creating a more efficient teaching process as well.

Improving Student Outcomes

In the GFA Solar Systems Astronomy course using 14 Cerego sets, 84 students completed all Cerego sets, while 19 only completed some of the sets. The students who completed all sets graded out 14.9% higher in the course overall (achieving an average of 80.9% for the course compared to a 66% average for students who only completed some of the sets). The students who completed all sets also averaged 14.1% higher scores on the midterm and 12.4% higher scores on the final exam. That’s more than a full letter grade difference!

In the GFA Health and Wellness course in Spring A 2019, 436 students completed all Cerego sets, while 141 students completed only some of the sets. The average grade in the course for students who completed all sets was 12% higher, while the midterm scores from this group were 9% higher and the final exam scores were 8% higher. These consistently higher scores across the board demonstrate how effective Cerego is for improving the learning experience and helping students achieve mastery.

AST Solar Systems Astronomy 111 Fall 2017

Amount of Cerego Sets Completed by Students  

All Sets

Some Sets

# Committed Students

(Completed both Midterm and Final Exam)



Average Grade in Course



Average Grade on Midterm



Average Grade on Final



GFA Health and Wellness Course Spring A 2019

Amount of Cerego Sets Completed by Students  

All Sets

Some Sets

# Committed Students

(Completed both Midterm and Final Exam)



Average Grade in Course



Average Grade on Midterm



Average Grade on Final



Initially, ASU used Cerego simply to give new students, true freshman or nontraditional students aiming to go back to school, an opportunity to assess if they were ready for college. Yet because students were so successful building foundational knowledge through Cerego, and the feedback from students and teachers was so positive, ASU made the decision to implement the platform into additional courses across different levels throughout the university.

What started with three introductory courses – Solar Systems Astronomy, Western Civilization, and Human Origins – has grown into a more comprehensive program because of the unfaltering success of students and prospective students using Cerego. ASU has now integrated Cerego into 10 courses and over 23,000 students have used Cerego as part of their coursework since 2015.   

What They’re Saying About Cerego

Beyond giving teachers and students detailed feedback on how they’re progressing towards mastery of information, both groups have found Cerego to be intuitive and easy to use.

“When Cerego is demoed to faculty who will be using it in their courses, the learning curve is short and instructors look forward to implementing it,” said Heather Nebrich, Instructional Design Specialist at ASU. “Professors comment on how clean, straightforward, user-friendly and interactive the platform is, which benefits not only their students, but them as well.”

As for students, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, indicating they enjoy using Cerego within their courses. Students are especially keen on using Cerego’s platform to engage with the material on a daily basis. One student in GFA’s Human Origins course said, “The content mastery sections were fantastic for quick, efficient learning. They took me from having a basic knowledge to solidifying my mastery of each section very quickly.”

Another student in the same course said, “This class was really wonderful all around. I really enjoyed using Cerego. I felt that the program really helped me retain much more of the information needed for the quizzes and mid-term.”

Moving beyond the GFA program, a student in ASU’s Microeconomics 212 course said, “Cerego was a great tool to help me learn subjects on the go, and wherever I was.” Across the board, students at ASU are now engaging with their courses through Cerego’s platform in a way that consistently provides a more effective learning experience and positive outcomes.