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High School Homework Habits and Success in First-year Engineering

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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

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 7: The Transition from High School to College

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.845.1 - 26.845.13



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Paper Authors


Nora Honken University of Cincinnati

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Nora is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Education Department at The University of Cincinnati. She holds a PhD in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development for the University of Louisville, a MS in Industrial Engineering from Arizona State University and a BS in Industrial Engineering from Virginia Tech. She also has extensive industrial experience.

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Patricia A Ralston University of Louisville

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Dr. Patricia A. S. Ralston is Professor and Chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at the University of Louisville. She received her B.S., MEng, and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville. Dr. Ralston teaches undergraduate engineering mathematics and is currently involved in educational research on the effective use of technology in engineering education, the incorporation of critical thinking in undergraduate engineering education, and retention of engineering students. She leads a research group whose goal is to foster active interdisciplinary research which investigates learning and motivation and whose findings will inform the development of evidence-based interventions to promote retention and student success in engineering. Her fields of technical expertise include process modeling, simulation, and process control.

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High School Homework Habits and Success in First year Engineering The value of homework for students in K-12 has been analyzed from many perspectives.After reviewing literature on homework, Harrison Cooper, who is recognized as an expert in thefield of K-12 homework, accumulated a list of proclaimed positive and negative effects ofassigned homework1. Positive effects include immediate achievement and learning, improvedstudy habits, and greater self-discipline and time organization. Negative effects include loss ofinterest, denial of leisure time, cheating and disadvantaging the disadvantaged. Studies on homework generally investigate the relationship between some aspect ofhomework, such as how much, or age of student, and performance on an achievementassessment2. The current study focused on the long term impact of homework completion inhigh school by investigating the relationship among homework completion in high school,performance in engineering school and scores on a self-control instrument. Due to the interest inretention in engineering, analysis was also completed to look at the relationship betweenhomework completion in high school and first year retention in engineering. Data were gathered using surveys administered to the 2012 and 2013 engineering cohortsfrom a large, public, research institution. Response rates ranged from 77% to 94% depending onthe year and data used. Students were asked to select (and enter) a math or science course theytook during their senior year in high school and were then asked to estimate the percent ofhomework they completed in this course. Students were also asked to complete the thirteen itemBrief Self-Control Scale. Results using the Two-Sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test showed that students whoreported completing 95-100% of their homework in high school had the highest average firstyear GPA and their GPA distribution was significantly different from students who hadcompleted 90-95%, 85-90%, 80-85% or less than 80% of their homework. Effect size (Clift’sdelta) ranged from .25 to .42 when comparing GPAs of students with 95-100% homeworkcompletion and students in the other categories of homework completion. Students whocompleted 95-100% of homework also had a statistically significant higher average self-controlscore with effect sizes (Hedge’s g) ranging from .54 to .81. However, homework completionrate did not significantly predict the likelihood a student would be retained in engineering afterone year. Since self-control3 and first semester GPA4 have been related to success in engineeringstudents, the results of this study are important and can be used to inform high school students,high school teachers and parents of the relationship between good home work habits while inhigh school and success in engineering, and potentially other majors. The study is correlationaland therefore does not show cause and effect. For example, it is still unknown whetherconsistently completing homework in high school develops self-control or if high school studentswith more self-control complete more of their homework assignments.[1] H. Cooper, "Synthesis of research on homework," Educational Leadership, vol. 47, pp. 85-91, 1989.[2] H. Cooper and J. C. Valentine, "Using research to answer practical questions about homework," Educational Psychologist, vol. 36, pp. 143-153, 2001.[3] XXXX.[4] H. Hartman and M. Hartman, "Leaving engineering: Lessons from Rowan University's College of Engineering," Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 95, pp. 49-61, 2006.

Honken, N., & Ralston, P. A. (2015, June), High School Homework Habits and Success in First-year Engineering Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24182

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