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Using Final Exams as an Incentive to Increase Student Motivation Toward Homework

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Student Learning and Assessment I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1618.1 - 22.1618.6



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Paper Authors


Jeffrey G Marchetta University of Memphis

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Jeffrey G. Marchetta, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Coordinator in Mechanical Engineering, joined the faculty at The University of Memphis in 2002. Dr. Marchetta is currently a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE), and is the affiliate representative for the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium. As a member of the AIAA, he received the Abe Zarem Award for Distinguished Achievement in Research in 2000. Dr. Marchetta is currently serving as a member on the AIAA Microgravity and Space Processes Technical Committee. His interest in improving engineering education is supported by his experience in developing web-assisted material for his courses and the use of customizable, real-time, instruction assessment to improve the learning environment.

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Edward H. Perry University of Memphis

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Professor and former department chair of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Memphis. Received B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the California Institute of Technology. Two-time recipient of his university's Distinguished Teaching Service award and a recipient of the Herff College of Engineering's Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award. Currently Co-editor of the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching.

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Carol Stephens Norwich University

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Currently Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
BSME '91 Memphis State University
MSME '92 Memphis State University
Ph.D. '96 The University of Memphis

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Carrot or Stick? Using Final Exams as an Incentive to Increase Student Motivation Toward HomeworkAbstractA study is presented to determine whether student motivation to do homework in a coursecan be significantly increased using the final exam as an incentive. Traditionally,students are encouraged by an instructor to do homework problems in a course as ameans to enhance mastery of course topics. Homework assignments are a commonmethod used to help students prepare for course exams. Instructors typically prepareexams to adequately assess how well students understand course topics. These examproblems may be similar to homework problems, but are typically varied sufficiently totest for conceptual understanding rather than simply recitation of solutions. In this study,all of the course mid-term exams are prepared using the traditional methodology. Thefinal exams, however, consist of multiple choice questions which are taken directly fromthe assigned homework problems with only the numerical values changed.Two introductory mechanical engineering courses, dynamics and thermodynamics wereselected for this study, which involved classes at a large public university and a smallprivate university. During one semester, a control group was established for each course,followed by a study group the next semester. Differences in the incoming grade pointaverages of the two groups were not statistically significant. Students were assignedhomework problems and encouraged to work them in preparation for all of the courseexams. The control group was unaware that the final exam problems would be drawnfrom the assigned homework problems. However, students in the study group wereinformed during the first week of the semester that exam problems would be drawn fromthe homework problems. The final exams administered to both groups were identical.The performance of students on the final exam in the control group and study group werecompared. Differences in the performances of the two groups will be discussed alongwith implications of the differences.

Marchetta, J. G., & Perry, E. H., & Stephens, C. (2011, June), Using Final Exams as an Incentive to Increase Student Motivation Toward Homework Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18846

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