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WIP: A Study of the Effect of Graded Homework in an Engineering Mechanics Course

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Grading and Feedback Models in Mechanics

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Paper Authors


Robert O'Neill P.E. Florida Gulf Coast University

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Dr. ROBERT (Bob) J. O’NEILL is Professor in the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering, U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering, Florida Gulf Coast University. He received a B.S. from the United States Military Academy in 1975, an M.S. in Structural Engineering and an M.S. in Geotechnical Engineering from Stanford University in 1984 and a Ph.D. in Structural Engineering from Kansas State University in 1993. Prior to his coming to FGCU he was a Professor of Engineering at Roger Williams University and an Associate Professor and Director of the Civil Engineering Analysis Group at the United States Military Academy. Dr. O’ Neill is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He has been active at the national level with ASCE’s Committee on Accreditation Operations (COAO) the Technical Council on Computing and Information Technology (TCCIT), Committee on Faculty Development (CFD) and Excellence in Civil Engineering Education (ExCEEd) initiative. Dr. O’Neill is a licensed Professional Engineer in California, Florida, Nevada and Virginia. He is a senior civil engineering program evaluator for ABET. He is an American Society of Civil Engineering Fellow (ASCE), a member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society.

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Ashraf Badir P.E. Florida Gulf Coast University

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Dr. Badir is an Associate Professor in the Environmental and Civil Engineering Department at the U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering in Florida Gulf Coast University. He earned his B.Sc. (1982) in Civil Engineering and M.Sc. (1985) in Structural Engineering from Alexandria University, Egypt. He also holds a M.Sc. (1989) and a Ph.D. (1992) in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a civil engineering program evaluator for ABET, a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE).

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Galen I. Papkov Florida Gulf Coast University

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Dr. Galen I. Papkov is an Associate Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics at Florida Gulf Coast University. He received his Ph.D. in Statistics from Rice University in 2008, an M.S. in Applied Mathematics from CUNY Hunter College in 2002, and a B.S. in Mathematics and Psychology from SUNY College at Geneseo in 1998. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Papkov was an actuarial analyst in New York City. His primary research focus is in the field of nonparametric density estimation with applications in the areas of classification & discrimination, bump hunting, and change-point analysis. He also has experience and interests in design and analysis of surveys, multivariate analysis, regression modeling, and data mining.

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Jiehong Liao Florida Gulf Coast University

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Dr. Jiehong Liao is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). She earned a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 2004 with the Rensselaer Medal award and as a member of the inaugural class of Gates Millennium Scholars. In 2011, she earned a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Rice University. Before joining FGCU in 2015, she was a visiting Assistant Professor of Biotechnology in the Division of Science and Technology at the United International College (UIC) in Zhuhai China. She has been exploring and applying evidence-based strategies for instruction since her training with ASCE's Excellence in Civil Engineering Education (ExCEEd) initiative in 2016. In addition to the scholarship of teaching and learning, her research interests and collaborations are in the areas of biomaterials, cellular mechanotransduction, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine.

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This study continues the work by the authors to investigate the efficacy of homework in an engineering mechanics (Statics & Dynamics) course, starting with data from the fall semester of 2013. Throughout this study we have investigated: hand-written solutions, frequent quizzes based on homework problems, and the Pearson Mastering Engineering software. Thus far variations in homework systems have had only minimal impacts on the student’s overall performance in the class, as assessed by performance on exam scores. In this paper authors will investigate whether grading the homework is indispensable to inspire the students to understand the concepts and thereby improve their test scores.

Two sections of engineering mechanics in fall 2019 are the focus of this study and only one of the two sections is assigned mandatory homework graded by the TA. Students in the other section are assigned the same homework, however they do not turn it in and are able to access the solution after the deadline of the first section. The main goal is to find out whether students need to have required/graded homework in order to motivate them to work out the problems and improve their performance in the course (quizzes and exams grades).

Exam performance of students in both sections will be monitored using augmented rubrics to investigate the source of errors that need to be eliminated for students to excel; namely: foundation (algebraic substitution, use of simultaneous equations, and issues with geometry or trigonometry), precision (significant figures, lack of units, unit conversions, careless computation error, calculator issues, and error or incomplete answer or format) and knowledge (including lack of understanding of terminology, error in constructing free body diagrams, and uncertainty on how to approach the problem). Statistical data will reveal the effect of graded homework; if any, on the sources of errors. Moreover, survey will be conducted to cover students’ attitude toward homework.

Grading homework is a time consuming task, a precious time that can be spent otherwise in offering new TA office hours, additional review sessions, and assistance to students in solving problems during class time. Are we better off grading all the homework? or not grading them at all and invest TA time to help the students directly? Would it be better to have a mixture of both, the TA grades fewer homework and spend other time helping the students? The proposed study will assist in answering these questions.

O'Neill, R., & Badir, A., & Papkov, G. I., & Liao, J. (2020, June), WIP: A Study of the Effect of Graded Homework in an Engineering Mechanics Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35518

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