Using a course management system (CMS) to meet the challenges of large lecture classes

Sarah Bryans Bongey (The College of St Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota, USA)
Gerald Cizadlo (The College of St Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota, USA)
Lynn Kalnbach (The College of St Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota, USA)

Campus-Wide Information Systems

ISSN: 1065-0741

Publication date: 1 December 2005


Purpose – This paper aims to describe the process and the outcome of a situation in which a professor of anatomy and physiology made supplemental use of a course management system (CMS) to assist with the instruction of 242 students. The purpose of this instructor's use of WebCT was to: increase student autonomy and improve access to information; improve student learning and achievement through the expert use of student “Self‐Tests”, which are an ungraded, interactive tutoring/quizzing feature; create a more active, student‐centered learning environment. Design/methodology/approach – Features that were provided in the WebCT site include: student self‐tests are ungraded, but act as a basic form of expert system or informative tutor by providing very specific feedback to answers students selected in this multiple choice experience. The feedback to each question was designed by the instructor, who advised students to use the system as a tutor by clicking on a variety of possible answers to gather new information. Comments on answers were designed to demonstrate to the student the “way of thinking” of a professional in the field. Current grade information for individual students. Schedule‐related information on labs, due dates, etc. syllabus lecture audio. Findings – Findings suggest that the implementation of the WebCT self‐tests contributed to the substantial increase in student test scores. Research limitations/implications – The implications are very exciting and far‐reaching in that – through a fairly unobtrusive course re‐design – the use of a CMS yielded a measurable improvement in student achievement. Practical implications – The use of these expert‐system‐like self‐tests, gradebooks, and other CMS features has the potential to improve teaching and learning in all manner of courses, including those that are on‐ground, blended, and fully online. Originality/value – This paper uses concrete data to demonstrate how a course management system was used to re‐design traditional courses and how this re‐design resulted in improved student achievement.



Bryans Bongey, S., Cizadlo, G. and Kalnbach, L. (2005), "Using a course management system (CMS) to meet the challenges of large lecture classes", Campus-Wide Information Systems, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 252-262.

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