Case Study: Oakton Community College



THE CHALLENGE: Improve Student Grades through Increased Motivation

Oakton Community College is a student-friendly institution offering traditional and online courses and programs at two campuses and more than 240 off-site locations in northern Chicago. This level of flexibility supports a diverse student body but can present challenges for instructors.

One such instructor is Leslie Van Wolvelear, Co-Chair, Student Advisor, and Professor of Accounting. One of her biggest challenges was student motivation, particularly in online courses. While Leslie’s courses were vibrant and diverse, her students often struggled with procrastination and follow-through.

“Students simply stopped completing their assignments. I found myself picking up the phone and calling them to try and push them to succeed,” Leslie said.

Students complained about the amount of time it took to complete homework, and Leslie saw motivation and participation quickly decline.

THE STRATEGY: The Next Generation of WileyPLUS – Course Modification and Adaptive Practice

During a WileyPLUS event in Chicago in the fall of 2017, Leslie learned about a pilot program for Paul Kimmel’s Introduction to Financial Accounting within the next generation of WileyPLUS. The student engagement features and efficiencies looked exciting, so she volunteered to pilot the new platform in her Intro to Financial Accounting courses, both in-class and online. WileyPLUS empowered her to modify her course in several important ways.

Flexible Course Design

With WileyPLUS, Leslie was able to be selective about which course material was available to students throughout the term. She chose to ‘publish’ only the materials and assignments students needed each week. This simplified student view proved less overwhelming and helped students focus on the content and resources that were most important each week. Leslie’s organized and streamlined course now helped students stay motivated and in control of their learning and assignments.

Adaptive Practice

Leslie understood the power of adaptive practice and wanted to do more than just encourage her students to utilize it.  Leslie offered extra credit to students who scored 70% or higher on the practice questions. This strategy was a carrot for students to take advantage of the study tool, but since adaptive practice tailors to the areas in which a student needs the most practice, study time became more focused and valuable. The instant feedback also proved encouraging to students and as each student continued to improve, their confidence and motivation grew naturally.

“I had to motivate my students to get into WileyPLUS and complete the adaptive practice questions, but once they did,  I started seeing positive outcomes,” stated Leslie.

Adaptive practice questions that engage students in challenging areas

Quick communication paths with remote students via assignments and Chat feature

Organized modules with accessible material, saving students time and frustration

Simple path to submitting assignments resulting in quicker feedback

Leslie surveyed students using WileyPLUS and of those who responded, 100% of them accessed Adaptive Practice to help them study and 67% accessed integrated videos – 75% of those students said that these tools helped them understand the material.

Proof of success was evident in student grades and attrition rates:

  • Average final grades rose 6% between Fall 2017 (78%) and Spring 2018 (84%)
  • Average final grades for students using Adaptive Practice skyrocketed to 90%
  • Attrition rates reduced 12% between Fall 2017 (39%) and Fall 2018 (27%)

“Students utilizing WileyPLUS are clearly outperforming those who are not using it. This tool truly helps with the learning process. Students want and need instantaneous feedback and that’s just what they get with the adaptive practice questions,” stated Leslie.


Motivated by her positive interactions, Leslie has expanded her relationship with Wiley. Currently, Leslie:

  • Is an active and committed user of the next generation of WileyPLUS
  • Has hosted a Wiley Fall Webinar titled: Connecting and Engaging Students in Your Online Class
  • Was awarded the Nexty WileyPLUS Next Gen Partnership Award for her invaluable assistance and feedback regarding WileyPLUS

In Fall 2019, Leslie is assisting the Accounting department’s transition to the Next Generation of WileyPLUS and encouraging instructors to:

  • Assign adaptive practice questions as graded assignments
  • Increase the value of WileyPLUS assignments toward final grades

Leslie’s overall goal is to ensure all students experience the motivation, growth and empowerment provided by WileyPLUS.