When Joseph Cavanaugh, Professor of Economics at Wright State's Lake Campus, first learned about Cerego, it was through his search for a tool that would help students not only review course material, but also apply their knowledge. And, as is the case for many educators, budget was a concern—the tool needed to be accessible and affordable. In Cavanaugh’s words, “Cerego fit the bill, completely.”
The problem: Traditional, passive approaches to study—like re-reading or highlighting—don’t engage students’ critical thinking or develop strong retention
“I was looking for something that would keep my students regularly engaged in learning the course material,” Cavanaugh explains. “I feel that student learning is helped tremendously when they are actively thinking about the material covered in the course. Passively reading, highlighting and even taking notes is not effective because it does not help the student to apply the material or (from a student’s point of view) prepare them for what will be asked on the exam.”
An affordable, engaging solution
“Cerego prompts the student to regularly interact and forces them to actively participate in their learning,” says Cavanaugh. “It moves the student forward as fast as they are able to learn, and even requires them to pace their work, which ultimately facilitates their learning.”
That effect plays an important role in normal circumstances, but the benefits are even more apparent in a remote learning context.
“Students in a traditional classroom setting certainly benefit from using Cerego, but this approach to learning is even more important when there is less interaction with their instructor and fellow students as is the case for online courses.”
“The ease of integrating this assignment into my course is fantastic. I can view the student’s progress in countless ways and easily account for their progress when computing their final course grade.”
- Professor Joseph Cavanaugh, Wright State University Lake Campus
And, crucially, the students like it, too.
“I’ve asked my students to specifically provide me their thoughts about Cerego after each time I have used it in my courses. They are overwhelmingly positive about how they feel it helps them learn the material. They like how it feels like a game and is convenient to 'play' on their phones. Although some have mentioned that it sometimes feels too repetitive, after I explain that it is set up to adjust the frequency of questions to match their learning, they understand that answering correctly largely solves that issue. Generally, students think it is a good value by being well worth their time and their money.”
Adapting to the present, and building for the future
“It is likely that many instructors that are new to teaching online will be looking for ways to engage their students, and Cerego is a great option if they do not want to be tied to a publisher,” suggests Cavanaugh. “As much as anyone, I hope we quickly return to our old normal, but really, I think this approach to learning is extremely effective for online and traditional in-class courses. So my bet is that after instructors see how effective this is, they will continue to use it in all teaching formats of their courses.”
What stands out most to Cavanaugh? “The ease of integrating this assignment into my course is fantastic,” Cavanaugh says. “I can view the student’s progress in countless ways and easily account for their progress when computing their final course grade.”
He continues: “The customer support is extremely responsive, and after the initial set-up it takes me less than ten minutes to set it up for the next class. There are many factors that contribute to how well a student performs in a class, but all the evidence I have found in my courses indicate that the more students use Cerego (in time spent and level achieved) the more they learn and higher their course grade.”
Thanks very much to Professor Joseph Cavanaugh for the interview! You can learn more about Wright State University via their official website. Photos courtesy of Wright State.