June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
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
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