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Professor Lisa Bonner

Professor Lisa Bonner

St. Anselm College

Professor Lisa Bonner makes herself a better organic chemistry instructor with Sapling Learning.



The Challenge

When Assistant Professor Lisa Bonner began teaching organic chemistry at St. Anselm College, the textbook and online learning 
tools she inherited were out of date. “I needed better content and a better way of assigning homework,” she says. “I wanted a better 
way to track student participation and progress.” She switched to a new textbook, fixing that part of the problem, but still needed to find a new online learning system that would engage her students more deeply in the out-of-class problem solving that’s core to science learning. “I wanted a system that would let me map homework to key topics,” she says. “Not just to 
the textbook lesson flow.”

The Solution

Bonner turned to Sapling Learning because its textbook independence allowed her to customize homework based on her curriculum and teaching approach. Sapling is a real time-saver, as well. “I didn’t want to have to grade homework every day,” Bonner says. She also appreciated the quality of Sapling’s content, and the ease with which students can use it. “Sapling gives students hints, and walks them through solutions,” she says. “It lets students print out their homework, or submit it online. And it’s way more usable than the system they use in general chemistry.” Now, Bonner assigns her students 15 or 20 Sapling Learning problems per chapter, letting them submit an unlimited number of answers to drive deeper engagement with the material. 

"I needed better content and a better way of assigning homework."

The Results

With Sapling, Bonner saves time, exerts more control over the content of her students’ homework problems, and is a more effective teacher than ever before. “I can include questions on topics I don’t cover in the homework, like Frost circles. I spend more time on important general concepts in class, rather than on little details. And Sapling makes it simple to track students’ performance, and prepare lessons knowing where they need the most help,” she says. “It lets me see inside students’ heads a bit. Sapling makes me a better teacher.” Part of what makes Sapling a great solution for Bonner is that her students prefer it to the old organic chemistry homework system. “They like it, which means they do the homework,” she says. “One old student even called me out of the blue to tell me how much she misses be able to use Sapling in her new chemistry class.” The bottom line? Bonner’s students do better in organic chemistry. “There’s a real correlation between doing the Sapling problems and getting a higher grade,” she says. “My students have shown significant improvement in their understanding of the material since using Sapling. It really helps them understand stereochemistry.” 

"Sapling (Learning) makes it simple to track student’s performance, and prepare lessons knowing where they need the most help."

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