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Correlation Between Homework Solution Website Use and Course Performance

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Issues Part II

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.386.1 - 22.386.14



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Paper Authors

author page

Sophia T. Santillan Sidwell Friends School

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The Effect of Homework Solution Website Use on Course PerformanceEarly in a Dynamics course at a Mid-Atlantic college in the Spring 2010 semester, students weresubmitting correct solutions to very challenging textbook homework problems. The solutionswere unlike any that appeared in the solution manual that is published with the textbook and alsounlike solutions posted by instructors at the school in previous years. Several students admittedto using an online homework solution site to complete their homework, even though there was astated policy against copying any type of answer key in order to complete the assigned work.Because many students argued that the online site was helpful in learning the material covered inthe assignment, data was collected for the remainder of the semester to track use of the onlinesite and corresponding performance on course exams.There are many online homework solutions sites; one is, a site that describesitself as offering “homework help for math, science, engineering, and business classes byproviding resources to accelerate and strengthen the learning process.” The website providesthorough, step-by-step solutions to problems in many commonly used textbooks. Studentsdescribed the site as very useful, describing it as an online study site that helps the studentsbeing a problem with which they are struggling. This study was designed to determine the effectof online homework solution use on performance on course exams. For each student, thesubmitted solution was compared with the corresponding solution provided by the website, andonly clear copying from the website was recorded. If a student turned in no work for a givenassignment, this non-submission was also recorded. Incorrect solutions were not marked as non-submissions. Even during this short, semester-long study, significant use of the website wasidentified. Sixty students were included in the study. Of the 1740 collected assignments, 21%were non-submissions, and 15% of the last ten assignments were identified as having beencopied from the solution website. Approximately 50% of students (29 out of 60) were identifiedas having used the website at least once during the test period. Exam scores throughout thesemester and final exam grades were normalized with respect to the mean and standarddeviation.The study determined that use of the online homework website had a significant, negative effecton exam performance. Non-submission rate, however, had a greater, negative effect. Use of thewebsite significantly increased when the homework problems were more difficult. In addition,students' performance on standardized tests and a prerequisite course were compared withhomework solution website use, and no clear correlation appeared. The study found thatstudents that were well-prepared for the course were not less likely to be using the homeworksolution site.

Santillan, S. T. (2011, June), Correlation Between Homework Solution Website Use and Course Performance Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17667

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