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Assessing the Effect of Online Homework on Student Learning in a First Circuits Course

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Circuits and Systems Education 1

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.246.1 - 26.246.10



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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 Interim 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 Grand Challenge Scholars Program. 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 Orcid 16x16

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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

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ASSESSING THE EFFECT OF ONLINE HOMEWORK ON STUDENT LEARNING IN A FIRST CIRCUITS COURSETo 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. Inmathematics, for example, online homework can be found for a wide range of courses at avariety of schools, ranging from community colleges to Ivy League universities. Someinstitutions rely on commercially available packages for homework delivery, while others writetheir own homework software in-house or employ freely available systems. The authors’institution has considerable experience with the open-source, freely available homework deliverytool WeBWorK. WeBWorK's use in mathematics has been well-established, with it now beingemployed at over 300 institutions worldwide. As part of an NSF-funded project, our team isexpanding the use of WeBWorK to engineering courses.The effects of online homework in engineering have only been explored to a limited degree bythe engineering education community. Therefore, the project team is also studying the effect ofonline engineering homework on student learning. For the initial study, the team established acontrol group through the following arrangement. In the Winter term of AY 13-14, two sectionsof an introductory circuits course were taught. For a particular homework assignment that was afairly isolated topic within the course, one section was required to do only paper homework,namely the instructor’s printed WeBWorK assignment. The “paper only” homework section wasnot given access to that homework assignment in WeBWorK. The other section of the coursecompleted homework on WeBWorK as usual. Following the homework assignment submission,the same in-class quiz was administered to both sections of the course and graded according to acommon rubric. For another fairly isolated topic within the course, this process was completedagain, except with the groups being switched. That is, the first “paper only” homework groupbecause the WeBWorK only group for a particular assignment and vice versa, and then acommon quiz was administered and graded according to a common rubric. All other homeworkfor the course was based in WeBWorK, with instructors also collecting a notebook at the end ofthe quarter containing all of the homework problems worked out in a typical engineering format.The homework notebook was graded on the formatting of problem statements and solutions butnot on the correctness of the solution itself.This paper analyzes the results from the common quizzes, employing appropriate analyses todetermine the level of knowledge attainment on the topics and to determine if statisticallysignificant differences exist between the two populations of “paper only” homework and onlinehomework only.

Evans, K., & Hummel, P., & Gates, M. (2015, June), Assessing the Effect of Online Homework on Student Learning in a First Circuits Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23586

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