Customer Story

This Professor Boosted Student Outcomes and Retention with Top Hat

4%

Increase to average final grades after using Top Hat

12%

Drop in DFW rates after using Top Hat

8%

Increase on instructor evaluation score

St Cloud TCC campus

The Challenge

Luke Green was frustrated by the quality of textbook options and the difficulty of facilitating peer feedback in his public speaking course

Luke Green faced two challenges with his course. Outside of class, he was unsatisfied with the selection of textbooks available. “Any instructor will tell you that finding the right textbook is hard. You use maybe 60 percent of what’s in it and then you have to supplement with other materials.”

He was frustrated that students were being forced to pay $150 for a book, but weren’t able to make use of all of the content. During class, he struggled to facilitate peer feedback without invoking anxiety in students. Public speaking, Green says, brings up a lot of insecurity or many people. “They may have had bad past experiences—so they’re nervous coming into the course.”

“Any instructor will tell you that finding the right textbook is hard. You use maybe 60 percent of what’s in it and then you have to supplement with other materials.”

Luke Green professor
Luke Green Instructor, Communications Studies, St. Cloud Technical & Community College

The Solution

Green adopted Top Hat Classroom to help facilitate peer feedback and co-wrote his own Top Hat Textbook

Green started using Top Hat Classroom in fall 2014, as a way for students to provide peer feedback in a safe environment. For example, Green employs Top Hat’s interactive questions to allow students to give and receive anonymous feedback in their presentations. “Providing feedback is hard. If I say something, they might think I’m being picky. But if they hear it from fellow students, they’re more receptive to it.”

A year later, Green was approached by Top Hat about contributing to a group-authored digital textbook on public speaking. Thinking that this could be a solution to his challenge of finding the right content, Green decided to pursue it. “What sold me on Top Hat initially was the ability to provide quantitative and qualitative feedback through the Classroom app.”

Getting involved in the development of an interactive textbook, which he could collaborate on with a team of public speaking educators and then customize for the needs of his own course, was a no-brainer. Green began using the resulting Top Hat Textbook, Introduction to Public Speaking, during the fall 2016 semester.

Always looking for ways to help his students, Green decided to measure the impact of Top Hat Classroom and Top Hat’s public speaking textbook on his students’ learning. As he began to use the platform in class, he decided to track data that assessed the following measures of improvement: grades on the final speech assignment, instructor evaluation, course evaluation and DFW rates.

“A teacher should adopt technology not because it makes their life easier, but because it makes student learning better.”

Luke Green professor
Luke Green Instructor, Communications Studies, St. Cloud Technical & Community College (SCTCC)
St Cloud TCC campus

The Results

Final course grades, instructor evaluations and course evaluations all increased after using Top Hat

When Green compared data from the beginning of the study to the end, four years later, the results were highly positive. All four measures showed an improvement. Grades on the final summative assessment speech went up four percentage points. Students’ ratings of Green’s performance as an instructor were up eight percentage points. Course evaluations went up seven percentage points. Finally, and perhaps most impressively, DFW rates were down 12 percentage points.

Anecdotally, students have told Green that they love the ongoing, regular qualitative feedback they get from their peers. As for Green, he’s thrilled with Top Hat’s end-to-end teaching solution. Top Hat Classroom has positively impacted his ability to build community and provide peer feedback in a safe environment during class. Top Hat Textbook provides an interactive, affordable way for his students to learn before and after class, leading to improvements on all the outcomes he measured.

“A teacher should adopt technology not because it makes their life easier, but because it makes student learning better. [Using technology] keeps me from having to lecture too much. I get the highlights from Top Hat, check for understanding and then turn it over to the students so they can practice and employ the techniques they’ve learned.”

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