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Feasibility of graded, electronic homework assignments in a second year chemical engineering course

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2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference


Boulder, Colorado

Publication Date

March 25, 2018

Start Date

March 25, 2018

End Date

March 27, 2018

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Paper Authors


Ann Kowalski Colorado State University

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I am a Ph.D. student in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Colorado State University. I received by B.S. in Biosystems Engineering from Clemson University in 2012. My research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of metal nanostructures within three-dimensional protein crystal scaffolds. Additionally, I have experience as a teaching assistant in a variety of undergraduate engineering courses. Through a Graduate Teaching Fellowship, I have been involved in education research within the College of Engineering at CSU.

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Christopher Snow Snow

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Dr. Snow joined the Chemical and Biological Engineering department at Colorado State University in 2011.

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Larger engineering undergraduate class sizes have lead to an increased workload for graders, teaching assistants, and professors. Homework grading comprises much of this work. One solution has been to grade only a subset of problems from each assignment. Yet turnaround time has remained lengthy and beneficial feedback is infrequent, as graders are not often meaningfully involved in the course. Web-based tools for developing online, interactive assignments have improved significantly over the last decade. We used one of these tools (Canvas) to convert the homework assignments for a 200-level material energy balances course to an online, graded format. Unlike paper homework, these online “quizzes” guide students through the problem solving process, providing feedback and tips along the way. After the assignment, the students can immediately view questions they missed and send comments directly to the professor. We hypothesize that this homework method will increase overall understanding of the material and will be preferred over paper homework by the students. We will compare exam scores between this year and the past three years. Of note, the past three years covered the same content under the same professor, but used paper homework assignments. Our preliminary data from Exam 1 show the mean and median scores for this semester were an average of 9.4 points and 6.4 points higher, respectively, than the previous three years. At the end of the semester, we will distribute a Likert scale survey to ascertain the students’ view of the online homework system. We will use this feedback to determine the success of the online approach, make edits to the assignments, and possibly expand this method to other undergraduate engineering courses.

Kowalski, A., & Snow, C. (2018, March), Feasibility of graded, electronic homework assignments in a second year chemical engineering course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference, Boulder, Colorado.

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