June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Computers in Education
11.53.1 - 11.53.9
A Homework Problems Database: Design and Implementation
Abstract An implementation of a homework problems database is explained. The database allows instructors to categorize problems using several criteria including subject matter, required skill set, difficulty, and the date the problem was last used. The problem solution is also stored reducing the effort to produce an assignment key. The design and implementation of the database is given and assessment of its usefulness is provided.
Background The homework problems database was developed for CEE2120 (Civil and Environmental Engineering Computer Applications), which is a sophomore-level course required of all civil and environmental engineering majors. Students become proficient using Excel and MathCAD, and are introduced to RISA 2-D, AutoCAD Land Desktop, and Microsoft Access. The course is 3 credits, and students describe the course as one of the most work-intensive yet useful classes that they take. The Fall 2005 Learning Objectives for CEE2120 are provided in the Appendix.
The Need When teaching students to use computer applications in engineering, several complications arise in the assignment of homework problems. Because the assignments are completed (and often turned in) in electronic form, the opportunity to plagiarize students’ work from previous semesters is easier than in most other courses, increasing the temptation to cheat. In order to reduce this temptation, we sought to produce some new homework problems (typically one per assignment) each year and minimize the number of homework problems that are used in consecutive semesters. After several years of teaching, this has led to a vast repository of homework problems. We also had the goal of providing problems in various civil engineering disciplines so students can solve various problems in different technical disciplines. Organizing the problems (which were stored by assignment as word-processing files) and tracking their previous usage became a daunting task. To facilitate our efforts, a database was developed (using Microsoft Access) to store the problems.
The database is now in use and has simplified the creation of homework assignments. The design of this database, its advantages, and usage issues we have encountered will be the focus of the paper. Assessment includes reflection by the instructors who have used the database.
Objectives The objectives of this project were to create a homework problems database that:
Organizes more than 300 problems into an easily-retrievable format, Allows the instructor to create homework sets efficiently, Allows the instructor to create homework sets that are unique from sets created in previous semesters, Allows the instructor to create homework sets that focus equally on the various sub- disciplines of civil engineering, and Is easily updated.
Roberts, M., & Curras, C., & Parker, P. (2006, June), A Homework Problems Database: Design And Implementation Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1107
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