How I Use Achieve: Denise Cady Arbeau from North Shore Community College

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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I use Achieve in two of my classes at North Shore Community College: an ALP (Accelerated Learning Program) course and a 6-credit integrated reading and writing course. 

When I was first new to the product, I went with the pre-built course and it made my life much easier!  I had to tweak it slightly to fit my courses, but I felt like it was much less stressful than starting from scratch. In subsequent semesters, I’ve experimented with building out the course on my own, but my course tends to mimic the pre-built one! I choose to use the diagnostic tests with both courses, as well as the low-stakes short writing assignments. And in Composition/Seminar (our ALP), I use the writing projects connected to The Hub textbook.

One of the most important things I learned with Achieve is that I don’t have to use every tool and option. I got very excited—and stressed out—at first when I saw what is available to instructors and I wanted to use it all! I quickly realized that I should have scaled it back for the first semester because I simply could not keep up with it all. Within writing projects, having three drafts for every essay meant I was constantly reading and grading. Instead, I cut back on the drafts and issued only one or two draft goals so that I wasn’t reading an entire essay each time. I also spread the diagnostic tests out over five weeks, so students don’t just feel like Achieve is one big test!  I also give my students the entire semester to compete any study plans associated with those diagnostics.

I use a labor-based grading system in both classes so the Achieve assignments are graded according to whether they are complete, incomplete, late or missing. The gradebook in Achieve helps a lot with that—I can quickly see which students are completing things and which are not…and then I can take a deeper dive into their individual assignments.  Achieve assignments comprise about 50% of the work in my Integrated Reading and Writing course, whereas in my Composition/Seminar (our version of ALP), I use Achieve and The Hub to make up 100% of the assignments.

I do a soft integration with my LMS Blackboard.  Since I use labor-based grading, I don’t weight my grades.  I don’t do a full integration with a linked gradebook because of this.


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I've been working in publishing since 1997, doing everything from the front desk to marketing and sales, and a few things in between. And I love working working with media and helping students succeed.