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An Expanded Study to Assess the Effect of Online Homework on Student Learning in a First Circuits Course

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Software & Web-based Education

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Katie Evans Louisiana Tech University

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Dr. Katie Evans is the Walter Koss Endowed Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics and the Academic Director of Mathematics and Statistics and Industrial Engineering programs. She is the Director of the Integrated STEM Education Research Center (ISERC) and the Director of Louisiana Tech’s Office for Women in Science and Engineering (OWISE). She earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics and M.S. in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. Her research interests include distributed parameter control modeling and simulation, dynamic modeling of physical systems, and STEM education. She has published 20 peer-reviewed publications in these areas, and her research has been funded by the NSF, AFRL, and LA-BOR. She also serves as an Associate Editor for the American Control Conference and the Conference on Decision and Control, two premier conferences in the controls community. She is a member of the IEEE, SIAM, and ASEE.

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Paul Hummel Louisiana Tech University

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Paul Hummel is a lecturer in the Electrical Engineering department at Louisiana Tech University. He has a BS in Engineering with a Computer concentration from LeTourneau University and a PhD in Engineering with an emphasis on Microelectronics from Louisiana Tech University. His current activities focus on project based learning and online student assessment.

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Miguel Gates Louisiana Tech University

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Miguel Gates is a lecturer at Louisiana Tech University in the department of Electrical Engineering and Cyber Engineering. He is currently the chair of the Cyber Engineering program.

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To meet the needs of today's students and to maximize efficient use of faculty resources, electronically delivered homework is becoming ever more popular in higher education. The authors’ institution has considerable experience with the open-source, freely available homework delivery tool WeBWorK. WeBWorK's use in mathematics has been well-established, with it now being employed at over 1000 institutions worldwide. As part of an NSF-funded project, our team is expanding the use of WeBWorK to three sophomore engineering courses.

The effects of online homework in engineering have only been explored to a limited degree by the engineering education community. Therefore, the project team is also studying the effect of online engineering homework on student learning. The project team has designed a homework assignment process to establish a control group and then assess homework affects. As an example, suppose two sections of an introductory circuits course are taught in a given term. For a particular homework assignment that is a fairly isolated topic within the course, one section is required to do only paper homework, namely the instructor’s printed WeBWorK assignment. The "paper only" homework section is not given access to that homework assignment in WeBWorK. The other section of the course completes homework on WeBWorK as usual. Following the homework assignment submission, the same in-class quiz is administered to both sections of the course and graded according to a common rubric. For another fairly isolated topic within the course, this process is completed again, except with the groups being switched. That is, the first "paper only" homework group becomes the WeBWorK only group for a particular assignment and vice versa. A common quiz is then administered and graded according to a common rubric. All other homework for the course is based in WeBWorK, with instructors also collecting a notebook at the end of the quarter containing all of the homework problems worked out in a typical engineering format. The homework notebook is graded on the formatting of problem statements and solutions but not on the correctness of the solution itself.

This paper analyzes the results from the common quizzes, employing appropriate statistical analyses to determine the level of knowledge attainment on the topics and to determine if statistically significant differences exist between the two populations of "paper only" homework and online homework only. The statistical analyses are based on introductory circuits courses taught over two terms, amounting to eight quizzes taken by 116 students.

Evans, K., & Hummel, P., & Gates, M. (2016, June), An Expanded Study to Assess the Effect of Online Homework on Student Learning in a First Circuits Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26588

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