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WeBWorK Online Homework in Material and Energy Balances

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2019 ASEE PNW Section Conference


Corvallis, Oregon

Publication Date

March 20, 2019

Start Date

March 20, 2019

End Date

March 22, 2019

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Paper Authors


Jonathan Verrett P.Eng. University of British Columbia, Vancouver Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jonathan Verrett is an Instructor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He teaches a variety of topics with a focus on design in chemical and biological engineering. His pedagogical interests include open education, peer-learning and leadership development.

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WeBWorK is an open-source online homework system originally created for mathematical disciplines and now used in a wide variety of courses involving numerical problems. With the system instructors can assign homework sets of problems to students. These problems can take in a variety of student inputs with the most commonly used being mathematical formulas or numerical answers. Using variables, the system can generate individualized problems for each students. These problems are stored on the instructor’s course in WeBWork, but can also be shared with other instructors running the WeBWorK system through the Open Problem Library.

WeBWorK was implemented in a second year Material and Energy Balances course with 190 students enrolled. In previous years homework sets were done using paper submissions. Analysis was done on the shift of these homework sets from paper to WeBWorK. This analysis includes instructor and teaching assistant time and effort put into creating and administering the two types of homework. Student usage of the system was monitored including number of attempts and problem completion. Students were also surveyed for their opinion of the system and for elements of the WeBWorK system that they valued of disliked. The results of these analyses are used to inform best practices implementing WeBWorK in a Chemical Engineering classroom.

There are currently number of openly available resources for material and energy balance courses such as online videos and course packages from LearnChemE as well as multiple choice ConceptTests from the AIChE Concept Warehouse. Development of WeBWorK homework problems builds on these existing resources by providing homework problems with a greater variety of input possibilities.

Verrett, J. (2019, March), WeBWorK Online Homework in Material and Energy Balances Paper presented at 2019 ASEE PNW Section Conference, Corvallis, Oregon.

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