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The vision of Project Tomorrow is to ensure that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world.  We believe that by supporting the innovative uses of science, math and technology resources in our K-12 schools and communities, students will develop the critical thinking, problem solving and creativity skills needed to compete and thrive in the 21st century.

Efficacy of SAM Projects in Intro to Computing Courses

Prepared for Cengage Learning by Project Tomorrow
July 2014

report coverGiven the importance that employers place on computer applications skills in a wide variety of fields, it is not surprising that increasingly colleges and universities are requiring their students to take a computer applications course as a prerequisite for graduation. Additionally, students also realize the value of proficiency in computer applications, most notably Microsoft Office applications, as critical skills for employment and advancement.  To meet the demand of increased enrollments, and to provide students with opportunities to apply computer application skills to real-world tasks and activities, college instructors are embracing the use of online solutions that provide opportunities for proficiency assessment and auto grading.

To gain an understanding as to how these types of digital tools can improve outcomes in real classroom settings, Project Tomorrow collaborated with Cengage Learning to evaluate the efficacy of the use of SAM online projects within Microsoft applications courses during the spring semester of 2014.

Key Findings include:

  • Students in courses that use SAM do more application projects than students in other courses where SAM is not utilized, thus providing the students in the SAM courses with additional opportunities to practice and develop their skills.
  • Seven out of 10 students attribute their increased engagement in course content to their use of SAM projects.
  • 85% of SAM students said that doing the online projects was a significant driver for their academic success in this course.
  • 100% of SAM instructors and 76% of SAM students would recommend SAM to a colleague or friend.
  • Two thirds of SAM students said that having access to SAM in their course helped them learn how to apply course content in real-world settings, and 56%said that it helped them develop critical thinking skills.
  • SAM students in both online/blended courses as well as face-to-face courses outperformed their peers in similar non-SAM classes in overall Microsoft application skill proficiency.

The study results are based on students’ use of SAM Projects, a feature within SAM that allows students to apply what they’ve learned, receive immediate feedback and be directed to further remediation. The full results of the study are available online here.

For more information about SAM, please visit

About SAM

SAMSkills Assessment Manager (SAM) is an online learning environment that helps learners master Microsoft® Office skills and computer concepts that are essential to academic and career success. SAM engages students in self-paced learning of Word®, Excel®, Access®, PowerPoint®, Windows®, Internet Explorer®, and Outlook®, as well as technology concepts and issues. At the same time, SAM reduces instructors’ workloads with auto-graded assignments and exams, and easy-to-use course setup and management tools. SAM provides a simulated environment for Microsoft (MS) Office products that integrates an interactive learning experience with the tools and knowledge to prepare students to use these products in real-world settings.

About Cengage Learning

CENGAGE LearningCengage Learning is a leading provider of innovative teaching, learning, and research solutions for academic, professional, and library markets worldwide. The company’s products and services are designed to foster academic excellence and professional development, increase engagement, improve learning outcomes, and deliver authoritative information to people whenever and wherever they need it. Through the company’s unique position within both the library and academic markets, Cengage Learning is providing integrated learning solutions that bridge from the library to the classroom.

About Project Tomorrow

Project Tomorrow LogoProject Tomorrow®, the national education nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering student voices in education discussions, prepared this program evaluation for Cengage Learning. Project Tomorrow has 16 years of experience in the K-12 and higher education sector and regularly provides consulting and research support to school districts, government agencies, business and higher education institutions about key trends and research in science, math and technology education.