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Measuring the Effect of Online Homework Procedures on Student Exam Performance

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Integrating Research

Tagged Divisions

Engineering Management, Systems Engineering, Engineering Economy, and Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.923.1 - 25.923.18

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Paper Authors


Alison M. Knight Mayo Clinic

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Alison M. Knight received her bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering from Tennessee Technological University. She worked for three years for TranSystems as a simulation analyst. She then received her MSE in Systems Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. During her graduate studies, she was a teaching assistant and later instructor for undergraduate Engineering Economy courses. She is currently working as a Health Systems Engineering Analyst at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

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Gillian M. Nicholls University of Alabama, Huntsville

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Gillian Nicholls is an Assistant Professor of industrial and systems engineering and engineering management and a 2009-10 Gray Faculty Fellow at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Her research interests are in applying statistical analysis and optimization to supply chain management, transportation management, and engineering education. She holds a B.S. in industrial engineering (Lehigh University), a master's in business administration (Penn State University), a M.S. in industrial engineering (University of Pittsburgh), and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering (University of Pittsburgh). Address: N149 Technology Hall, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL 35899; Phone: (+1) 256-824-6637; Fax: (+1) 256-824-6733; Email:

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Paul J. Componation University of Alabama, Huntsville

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Paul J. Componation is the Systems Engineering Program Coordinator and a professor of industrial and management systems at the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAHuntsville). Prior to joining UAHuntsville, Componation was a Resident Associate with the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Development at West Virginia University and served as an engineering officer with the U.S. Air Force. He has also supported NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as their Systems Engineering Resident Researcher. Componation received his Ph.D. in industrial engineering from West Virginia University in 1995. He also earned a M.S. in management from Troy State University and a B.S. in industrial engineering from West Virginia University. Componation works in product and system development with primary research interests in project and systems management, decision theory, and engineering economics. He has managed and supported research efforts with DOD, NASA, and numerous defense and aerospace industries. He a member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and a Fellow with the American Society of Engineering Management (ASEM).

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Measuring the Effect of On-Line Homework Procedures on Student Exam PerformanceOne of the consistent challenges in education is finding the right mix of assessment tools to bothencourage learning and provide an accurate evaluation of students. This challenge becomes evenmore acute in quantitative courses where students often are tasked to complete a significantnumber of problem sets to develop their skills. The use of course management software hasprovided a new method to address some of these challenges. On-line assessments can providelearning and assessment tools that are less labor intensive for the instructors and provide quickerfeedback for the students. Using on-line assessments as direct replacements for traditional penciland paper homework assignments may not, however, take full advantage of the technology.The purpose of this research effort is to explore whether on-line homework procedures and otherbackground data about the students had a measurable effect on student exam performance. Toimprove the sampling for the study, multiple sections of an undergraduate engineering economycourse were studied over multiple semesters. This paper discusses preliminary results obtainedfrom analysis through Exam #1 for 140 students across three sections of engineering economyfrom a single semester. The variables studied include the number of attempts at an assignment,time between attempts, time between first attempt and the deadline, performance on individualhomework attempts, first attempt score, maximum score achieved, and average score achieved.Student demographic data, such as total credit loads, number of semesters at the university,transfer student status, current college major, and prior GPA were also reviewed. Otherconfounding factors were also reviewed, such as attendance at problem solving and recitationsessions. These variables are then compared with student performance on individual exams.The goal of this research is to determine which, if any on-line homework variables have apositive impact on student exam performance.It is hoped that the results of this research, along with parallel efforts to evaluate the impact ofother technologies, such as clickers and financial calculators, can be combined to provide a moreeffective educational experience to prepare students to become practicing engineers. Thepreliminary results using logistic regression found that the probability of a student earning anExam #1 score of 80% or higher was negatively affected by transfer student status and positivelyaffected by recitation attendance and the first attempt score for the fourth homework assignment.

Knight, A. M., & Nicholls, G. M., & Componation, P. J. (2012, June), Measuring the Effect of Online Homework Procedures on Student Exam Performance Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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