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Teaching Strategies When Students Have Access to Solution Manuals

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade II

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1151.1 - 23.1151.13



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Paper Authors


Edward F. Gehringer North Carolina State University

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Ed Gehringer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at NC State University, specializing in automated support for collaborative learning.

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Barry Wayne Peddycord III North Carolina State University

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Barry Peddycord III is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science with a research focus on educational technology and learning analytics.

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Reuse of Homework and Exam Questions in the Internet AgeEight years ago, this author undertook a study of instructors who reused homework andexam questions from one year to the next. The results showed that those who reusedquestions more frequently than once every two years observed more cheating by studentswho had copies of the previous questions and answers. But since then, the Web haschanged everything. Now, Cramster serves up answers to problems from textbooks, andsites like Course Hero encourage students to upload exams for any course. This hasendangered all reuse of questions. Textbook publishers are being asked to come up withnew questions every semester.While it’s obviously more work to come up with new questions, that is not the onlydownside. All too often, problems are not quite right the first time they are assigned.They may be ambiguous, too easy, too hard, or the answer may be degenerate. Manyinstructors find that they they can achieve excellence in questions only by refining themover several semesters. But alas, by then it’s too late, because the students already havethe answers.This talk will present several strategies that that instructors can use to circumvent theproblem. To reuse the same problems, an instructor can— • use an automated testing system that can randomize parameters, so each student is presented with a different problem; • reword questions so that a text search will not find them; • change names of people or organizations named in word problems; or • never distribute answers in the same document with questions, and refrain from putting the semester or year on question or answer sheets; this makes it much harder to match questions with answers.It is also possible to have students make up questions and then peer-review the questionsto choose the best ones to be used on homework and exams the next semester. Thisstrategy has enabled the author to use student-authored questions for 30% of thehomework and exam questions in some classes.The presentation will include these approaches, as well as others gathered from a still-to-be-conducted survey of faculty on various teaching-oriented listservs.

Gehringer, E. F., & Peddycord, B. W. (2013, June), Teaching Strategies When Students Have Access to Solution Manuals Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22536

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