Asee peer logo

Board # 19 :Development and Usage of an Online Homework System in a Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Chemical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Kyle Joe Branch University of Utah

visit author page

Kyle Branch is a fourth-year graduate student at the University of Utah Department of Chemical Engineering. He has helped develop and teach a freshman laboratory course, and an introduction to chemical engineering course which both use the online homework system described. His main research interest is in engineering education, focusing on the creation and analysis of interactive simulations for undergraduate chemical engineering courses.

visit author page


Anthony Butterfield University of Utah

visit author page

Anthony Butterfield is an Assistant Professor (Lecturing) in the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Utah. He received his B. S. and Ph. D. from the University of Utah and a M. S. from the University of California, San Diego. His teaching responsibilities include the senior unit operations laboratory and freshman design laboratory. His research interests focus on undergraduate education, targeted drug delivery, photobioreactor design, and instrumentation.

visit author page

Download Paper |


We have developed an online, open-source system to administer a variety of course materials to students, including homework assignments, lab safety training quizzes, course surveys, and simulated laboratory experiments. The homework assignments have been designed to randomly generate many parameters in each homework problem in order to give each student a unique problem and minimize cheating. The assignments are all automatically graded and allow students multiple attempts in order to reduce the grading commitment on instructors and allow students the ability to correct misunderstandings as early as possible.

We have added real-time educational data mining functionality to provide both instructors and students with student usage statistics. Before attempting a homework assignment, students are able to see how students in the past have performed and how much time it has taken them to complete each problem. Instructors are able to see when each student submits their assignments and how well they are performing in the course.

We have also included awards which students are able to obtain through doing exceptionally well on homework assignments, through training on laboratory equipment, and from collecting high-quality data on laboratory experiments. In previous research, gamification has been found to increase student engagement in a course. Through obtaining these awards, students can obtain “experience” and “level up” on the website.

Preliminary results have shown that students enjoy the awards and are being motivated to achieve at least 100% on homework assignments in order to obtain them. Some students are also solving unassigned homework problems in order to gain as much “experience” as possible.

Branch, K. J., & Butterfield, A. (2017, June), Board # 19 :Development and Usage of an Online Homework System in a Chemical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27801

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015