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Engaging online study tool helps social studies students succeed at Ohio high school

McGraw-Hill Education’s LearnSmart® assesses students' knowledge levels and addresses areas that require further instruction

Brent Fruhwirth has taught social studies at Little Miami High School in Morrow, Ohio, for two decades. He was surprised last year when he was asked to pilot McGraw-Hill Education’s LearnSmart, an online study tool, in his American history classes.

“At first, I thought they had chosen the wrong person to pilot a technology tool,” says Fruhwirth. “I know nothing about technology, but I was willing to try it.”

LearnSmart is an online, interactive, adaptive study tool that assesses a student’s proficiency and knowledge within a specific course. It also tracks which topics have been mastered and identifies areas that need more study. 

Fruhwirth was quickly won over. “LearnSmart is quite simple to use,” he says. “I suddenly had a lot of data on my students, such as how many times it took them to answer a question correctly. It has been very beneficial.”

Fruhwirth adds that he uses LearnSmart as a homework tool, and assigns certain questions that are due on test days. 

“That way I can look at the results and see how much studying the students did,” Fruhwirth says. “If I assigned a set of questions and a student did only half, it gives me an opportunity to provide encouragement.”

Student engagement

Fruhwirth says some students complained about the added work in the beginning. Then they realized they could use LearnSmart on their Chromebooks in study hall, and they began to see the benefit when they got their test results. Fruhwirth also appreciates having the ability to monitor his students at every stage.

“LearnSmart is very useful in terms of knowing what students have covered,” he says. “I am able to connect what we are learning to how they are studying, and I can control what they are able to access so that they don’t work ahead. I can also leave what we have already covered open for them, so that they can go back and review.”

Positive results

As a result of the LearnSmart pilot, the majority of Fruhwirth’s students performed very well on state tests. Ohio state test scores are distilled down to a 1-to-5 rating scale, and students are required to score a 3, 4 or 5 in order to pass. 

“Almost all my students scored 3s or 4s on their state tests, and a surprising number scored 5s,” Fruhwirth says. “Only three of my students scored 2s, and one was a first-year ESL student. Even those students benefitted from LearnSmart because it met them at their own levels.”

Fruhwirth points out that LearnSmart prepares his students for digital test-taking platforms as well as for the content.

The future

Fruhwirth says Little Miami will soon be a 1-to-1 technology school with Chromebook laptops for all students.

“We were just approved for 1-to-1, so our social studies department will continue to use McGraw-Hill Networks™ core content with LearnSmart embedded. It is very reassuring for me to know what my students have read and learned.”

For more information, visit mheonline.com/LearnSmart