Digital Learning Platform Achieve Launches Just in Time to Support Remote Learners in College this Fall
Launch follows four years of alpha and beta testing with hundreds of instructors and 8,000 students
Achieve is being used in more than 1,600 in-person and virtual classes fall term
After four years of rigorous testing by educators and students, Macmillan Learning’s new digital learning platform Achieve launched in college classes throughout the U.S. this fall semester. Research from Inside Higher Ed and The Boedeker Group shows that student engagement was a top challenge as instructors transitioned to virtual classes this spring, and remains a concern this fall. During the spring 2020 semester, instructors using Achieve reported their students were more engaged both in and outside of class when they compared to other classes they were teaching without Achieve.
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“Engagement is critical to a student’s success, and a sense of support and collaboration can be challenging to create by just watching videos or clicking through information. Achieve makes learning more active, which is more important than ever with virtual and hybrid classes. It’s making a difference for students, with data demonstrating better understanding, grades and exam scores when students use Achieve,” said Susan Winslow, President, Macmillan Learning.
Active learning is embedded in Achieve’s design, and can be used in traditional, online, hybrid, blended, or a fully “flipped” classroom, with options for both synchronous and asynchronous learning to support engagement — no matter where students are. This flexibility was especially critical this past spring semester when many instructors had to transition from face-to-face to virtual classes quickly. When asked, 71% of instructors teaching during the spring semester reported that it was easier to transition to a virtual environment with Achieve compared to other curricula they were using.
Achieve includes an interactive eBook as well as expansive learning materials that include pre-class, in-class and post-class activities. Several digital-first titles were developed for the new digital learning platform, including Achieve for Readers and Writers and Achieve for Interactive General Chemistry.
Joel Wilson, a Professor of General Studies at Keiser University and an Adjunct Instructor at the Community College of Allegheny County, who has been using Achieve Writer’s Help for Hacker for four semesters, said: “When the coronavirus shut down institutions across the country, many instructors were scrambling to transition their class and locate materials that work well in a virtual classroom, but thanks to Achieve’s built-in active learning, my classes maintained their continuity, and my students’ learning continued. The students remained very engaged with the Achieve materials and the course. They were able to both finish the semester and strengthen their composition skills.”
Earlier this year Achieve became the first product exclusively designed for higher education to earn the “Research-Based Design” product certification by Digital Promise. The certification ensures instructors that the products they select were designed using research-based learning science principles and developed using best practices before using them with their students.
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The Data on Student Success:
Macmillan Learning developed Achieve using research-based learning science principles, and took the unusual approach of investigating the effectiveness and efficacy of Achieve in its infancy by conducting rapid-cycle evaluations of tool features. Following that, the company implemented increasingly rigorous validity and efficacy studies as the platform matured throughout beta testing to release.
Thousands of students and hundreds of instructors have participated in efficacy studies at four-year, two-year, public and private colleges. Additional studies are underway this semester. Key findings to-date include:
- There’s a statistically significant positive relationship between use of Achieve and improved performance in class. Students who completed at least 80% of their assigned activities in Achieve, earned nearly a letter grade higher, on average, than students who completed less than 80%. Read more in the “Achieving Student Success” research report.
- Achieve closed the achievement gap between the less and more academically prepared students by about half. Details are available in the “Achieving Student Success” report.
- Students who used pre-class assignments in Achieve did better on exams and in class. They earned, on average, 8.7 percentage points higher on assessments and 6.8 percentage points higher on exams. Further, the more pre-class activities that a student engaged in, the higher their assessment scores and final exam scores were. Read more in “The Flipped Effect” research report.
All Macmillan Learning studies are compiled with the American Psychological Association ethical standards for research. They are approved by a third-party Institutional Review Board (IRB) and at individual institutions where required. IRB approval enables researchers to compare course results with detailed information about each student, including their academic background and student records, including final exam scores and course grades. All research has been reviewed by Macmillan Learning’s Impact Research Advisory Council (IRAC), which is composed of experts in educational technology, methodology, and psychometrics.
“Achieve was built with active learning at its core, with interactive learning experiences that engage students before, during and after class. Our research over the past four years shows that with Achieve, students are more engaged and are learning the material better. While Achieve wasn’t created in anticipation of a pandemic, we’ve seen firsthand how instructors and students have benefited from the new platform during this incredible time of change,” said Tim Flem, Vice President of Product at Macmillan Learning.
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