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The Effects of Penalties On Homework that is Submitted Late for Grading on Learning in a Statics Course

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

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July 26, 2021

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July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

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Bringing a Different Perspective

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Josué Njock Libii Purdue University Fort Wayne

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Josué Njock Libii is Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA. He earned a B.S.E in Civil Engineering, an M.S.E. in Applied Mechanics, and a Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics (Fluid Mechanics) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has worked as an engineering consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and been awarded a UNESCO Fellowship. He has taught mechanics and related subjects at many institutions of higher learning: The University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Western Wyoming College, Ecole Nationale Supérieure Polytechnique, Yaoundé, Cameroon, and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Purdue University Fort Wayne. He has been investigating the strategies that engineering students use to learn engineering subjects for many years. He is an active member of two research groups in his current department: The Undergraduate Projects Lab and the Energy Systems Lab. He is also the PI of an NSF grant for a scholarship program for guiding high-performing STEM majors from low-income families to complete their baccalaureate degrees on schedule.

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Syllabus Revisions to Help Improve Students’ Academic Performance in a Mechanics Course

A literature review of research on homework indicates that doing homework is very important to academic success for a variety of reasons: 1) Homework is an important tool for learning in the classroom [Carbine II (2009)]. 2) Homework is positively correlated with student achievement [Hill, Spencer, Alston and Fitzgerald (1986)]. 3) It is also an inexpensive way of improving student academic preparation, because it does not require the hiring of new staff or the modification of the curriculum [Hill, Spencer, Alston and Fitzgerald (1986)]. 4) Graded homework is a significant predictor of final grades [Galyon, Blondin, Forbes, and Williams (2013)]; and 5) Graded homework can facilitate timely progress toward graduation [Young, Dollman and Angel (2016)]. It is recommended that a viable option for the improvement of final course grades is to experiment with the impact of graded homework on final grades [Young, Dollman and Angel (2006)]. This paper is based on the implementation of that recommendation. Specifically, the paper is about the results of data collected on how the timely completion and submission of graded homework correlated with grades earned in exams in a 100-level engineering technology course on Statics at a regional campus of a state university and with how students perceived an instructor whose homework policies were strict. The instructor used the syllabus to lay out the homework policy in the course [Harris (1993), Appleby (1994), Eberly, Newton & Wiggins (2001)]. It spelled out clearly when homework was to be submitted for grading; the required formats of its presentation; and the definitions of homework that was on time, moderately late, very late, or unacceptably late, as well as the penalties associated with each type of late submission. For this experiment, the instructor chose to start stiffening the penalties for the late submission of homework progressively after each semester and did so for three consecutive semesters. He started with a very lenient policy in the first semester, a strict policy in the second, and a stricter policy in the third. During each semester, students were placed into three categories: those who rarely/never submitted homework; those who submitted it late; and those who submitted it on time. The scores on exams for each group were noted and the performances of the three groups were compared at the end of each semester. Analysis of the data showed that those who submitted no homework earned the lowest scores on exams every semester; those who submitted their homework on time earned the highest scores on exams every semester; and those who submitted their homework late earned scores that were between the first two. This pattern remained qualitatively consistent from one semester to the next. Effect on teaching evaluations. Scores given to the instructor by students on one specific item of the teaching evaluations (the extent to which they perceived the instructor as helpful) decreased with time progressively: They were highest when the policy was lenient; lower when the policy became strict; and the lowest when the policy was the strictest. Thus, the stricter the penalties, the less helpful the instructor appeared to the students.

Njock Libii, J. (2021, July), The Effects of Penalties On Homework that is Submitted Late for Grading on Learning in a Statics Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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