From Skeptic to Advocate: My MindTap Experience

Image of Bryan Hochstein, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Alabama
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Bryan Hochstein is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Alabama


When I was a doctoral student and coordinator of a large Marketing class, a Cengage representative showed MindTap to our instructional team — and we weren’t in favor of it.

First, we disliked the idea of educators “spoon feeding” or “tricking” students into learning. We also thought that the value of a course should come from the instructor, and engagement should come from how that instructor motivated students, rather than how the support materials did so. Thus, we mostly used MindTap for the eTextbook.

However, in the decade since, my mind has changed. Now, I advocate for learning with MindTap. I want to use this post to briefly describe my journey with, and tips on, course instruction with MindTap, and how I became a MindTap advocate and cheerleader.

Acceptance of Digital Course Solutions

In today’s educational landscape, it’s clear that digital course solutions are here to stay. Given this reality, it was easy for me to embrace these tools and utilize them like a traditional textbook. As with any textbook, my team’s initial approach was to offer MindTap as an optional resource for students to learn more outside of class instruction. For large sections of my Marketing Principles courses, this allowed students to pursue varied levels of learning.

Though the delivery method had changed, our team’s use of the textbook did not. We had just accepted an eTextbook to replace the traditional print offering. But by using MindTap for the eTextbook alone, we found that student evaluations did not really change. Some students expressed a positive learning experience and outcomes with the eTextbook, while others were less impressed.

Interest in New Teaching Techniques

After starting my career as an Assistant Professor, I quickly discovered that simply accepting digital course solutions as a reality wasn’t good enough. In 2016, I began instructing large section classes in my new role. I received a rude wake-up call when my first Student Opinion of Instruction (SOI) results were much lower than I had expected. Thus, I quickly became interested in finding new ways to reach students who were less engaged with my traditional approaches.

My interest led me to better align my lecture material and MindTap using video case studies, chapter assignments and practice work. The approach was a success, as my second year SOI scores improved, and students more frequently reported positive learning outcomes. As a result, I came to appreciate the MindTap tools in my teaching.

Integration into the Curriculum

Over time, positive student experiences with MindTap have increased my integration of the platform. What I once thought was “spoon-feeding” was in fact a new way of learning. Currently, MindTap-related work encompasses thirty-five percent of my student assessment, and in reality, is responsible for most of their learning. I used to lecture for sixty minutes in ways only loosely related to MindTap materials. But now, I only provide overview lectures that focus heavily on content in MindTap.

Integrating MindTap into my curriculum has helped me to pivot my lectures and allow more time for students to apply their learning. MindTap can engage students in foundational learning outside the classroom. Because of this, I can go beyond basic information on class day and dive straight into applied exercises. The result: Soaring SOI scores that lead our department, and students who truly enjoy learning in my course.

Advocating for Tools in MindTap

But my journey didn’t stop at integrating MindTap. New tools in MindTap have changed me into an advocate for the platform. In summer of 2021, I adopted “Learn It” modules in MindTap. This seemingly simple collection of questions and content didn’t initially strike me as revolutionary. However, over two semesters, students have reported that “Learn It” modules are some of the most effective learning tools they have ever used.

I use these comments to demonstrate to students and other faculty how using tools in MindTap has helped me to move beyond simply teaching content. Now, I can help students conceptualize and apply course concepts in ways that will be useful outside of the classroom.

Diving Deeper into MindTap

While I started as a skeptic, I have now become an advocate of MindTap because:

  1. It helps me be a better instructor
  2. Students can better learn and apply Marketing principles
  3. MindTap returns excellent SOI scores (which I highly appreciate)

If you already utilize MindTap, are a new adopter or are somewhere in between, I encourage you to dive further into the platform. Think of MindTap as the “uploader” of information, while the instructor is the “programmer” of how this information can be effectively used in students’ future careers. I found that when I did this, great student results and better SOI ratings followed. I hope you experience the same outcomes — and maybe you’ll soon be advocating for MindTap, too.

To discover more about “Learn It” modules, watch this introductory video from Professor Bryan Hochstein.