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I Kissed Homework Goodbye: Replacing Homework with Online Quizzes

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

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Paper Authors


Thomas S. Soerens Messiah College

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Thomas Soerens is Professor of Engineering at Messiah College. He teaches in Civil and Environmental engineering with specialization in storm water, ground water, and water treatment. He performs design and applied research in water systems in rural developing communities. He is a Professional Engineer and a Certified Ecological Designer.

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Do online quizzes with immediate feedback promote better student learning than homework assignments for upper level engineering classes? A junior-level Environmental Engineering class was reworked to use multiple-choice quizzes in a learning management system rather than paper homework. Similar approaches have shown encouraging improvement in student motivation, in providing feedback to students, and in exam performance. An objective for using this approach in Environmental Engineering was to allow the students to get immediate feedback on their skills.

Learning improvement was measured by a 50 question multiple-choice final exam, which was identical to the final in the previous offering. The average score improved from 85.5% in the previous offering to 87.9% in the new model. In previous years, problems on reaction kinetics and on chemistry were frequently answered incorrectly and a primary motivation for the new system was to correct this with quizzes that offered feedback. With the new model, the students performed 100% correctly on the five reaction kinetics problems and 86% on the five chemistry questions on the final exam. However, students did poorly on a landfill sizing problem that was similar to a quiz and did poorly on a TMDL question that was only covered in a discussion forum. Students also performed poorly on a problem that was only covered in a lab exercise.

Scores on the quizzes themselves were quite high and were not very useful for assessing individual student performance. Feedback from the students on the quiz approach was requested with a survey and overall reaction was positive and encouraging. A drawback of the online quizzes it that it is easier to copy another student’s quiz answers than it is to copy a paper homework. This paper presents observations and assessments of the course.

Soerens, T. S. (2019, June), I Kissed Homework Goodbye: Replacing Homework with Online Quizzes Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32911

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