Asee peer logo

WIP: An On-going Analysis of the Impact of Assigning Online Thermodynamic Homework in place of Traditional Homework

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Work-in-Progress Oral Session

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Louis Reis Louisiana Tech University

visit author page

Dr. Louis Reis currently serves as a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering department at Louisiana Tech University. He received his B.S. degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University along with his M.S. degree in Microsystems Engineering and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering. He teaches a variety of courses at Louisiana Tech including: Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, and the “Living with the Lab” freshmen engineering courses. He is also currently involved in research on microfluidics and biosensors.

visit author page


Katie A. Evans Louisiana Tech University

visit author page

Dr. Katie Evans is the Entergy Corp LP&L/NOPSI #3 & #4 Associate Professor of Mathematics and the Academic Director of Mathematics and Statistics and Industrial Engineering programs. She is the Director of the Integrated STEM Education Research Center (ISERC) and the Director of Louisiana Tech’s Office for Women in Science and Engineering (OWISE). She earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics and M.S. in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. Her research interests include distributed parameter control modeling and simulation, dynamic modeling of physical systems, and STEM education. She has published 20 peer-reviewed publications in these areas, and her research has been funded by the NSF, AFRL, and LA-BOR. She also serves as an Associate Editor for the American Control Conference and the Conference on Decision and Control, two premier conferences in the controls community. She is a member of the IEEE, SIAM, and ASEE.

visit author page


Dexter Cahoy Louisiana Tech University

visit author page

Dexter Cahoy is an Associate Professor in the College of Engineering and Science at Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA. He received his MS in Statistics from University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, and his PhD in Statistics from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

As a professor at Louisiana Tech, he taught and design/develop courses in statistics and computing for the engineering and science students. He is an active member of the American Statistical Association and is an editorial board member of a few statistics journals.

His research interests widely range from data analysis to applied mathematics.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Instructors face a difficult burden in providing a quality education in the face of increasing enrollment or workloads. Grading traditional homework provides additional work to over-loaded instructors. Yet homework continues to be a primary, low-stake mechanism to assess student understanding as a course progresses. The use of freely available, online homework systems such as WeBWorK can relieve instructors of time consuming tasks such as grading, thus freeing them to engage with students in more meaningful ways. Such homework systems provide students fast and effective means for studying and practicing engineering problems. In this work, we present preliminary data from our on-going analysis of the impact that the use of the online homework system WeBWorK may have on student learning in replacement of traditional homework in a semester-long thermodynamics course. Students were randomly assigned into either a control group or test group. The control group was assigned traditional hand-written assignments, whereas the test group was assigned online problems. Both homework sets were identical in all aspects except for delivery and grading. A majority of students have stated they had experience with WeBWorK in previous math and engineering courses, and homework topics that were selected for analysis were considered isolated, requiring little or no pre-subject knowledge. Upon the submission of homework from both groups, a common quiz was administered to both groups to evaluate student understanding of the homework material. A common grader, who was unaware of homework group assignments, and a common grading rubric were adopted to remove unwanted biases. For the next isolated topic, the groups of students were switched where the original control group served as the new test group receiving WeBWorK and vice versa. In addition to quiz and homework scores, pre-course and post-course surveys were administered to the students to identify strengths and weaknesses of using WeBWorK while also allowing for student recommendation for improvements.

This work evaluates the effectiveness of using an online media to administer homework and practice problems when compared with traditional hand-written assignments. Over the course of one semester, four quizzes on isolated topics were used to evaluate the impact of WeBWorK assignments. The results of 166 pre-course surveys and 74 post-course surveys were aggregated and scored to identify student confidence with WeBWorK and satisfaction. The survey data shows that a majority of students had positive experiences with the WeBWorK assignments. Particularly students were satisfied with the instant grading feature, but had concerns regarding the lack of helpful feedback for incorrect answers. The survey data along with a statistical analysis between the WeBWorK homework and traditional homework are being reviewed to help improve student experiences with the online homework system.

Reis, L., & Evans, K. A., & Cahoy, D. (2017, June), WIP: An On-going Analysis of the Impact of Assigning Online Thermodynamic Homework in place of Traditional Homework Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29131

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015