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Work in Progress: Homework in the Digital Age: The Implementation, Effects, and Perception of Randomly Generated Custom Digital Assignments

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Computers in Education 9 - Technology 1

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


David Beevers Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Beevers is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State Behrend. A father of 2 young children, he has no time or energy for interesting hobbies. What hobbies he does have are uninteresting and nerdy, such as acting as the game master for a small D&D group, playing video games, and reading online serial novels. For his doctoral work he studied the optimization of hydropower utilization in multi-operator systems and he is currently interested in developing tools for improving engineering education outcomes.

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Qi Dunsworth Pennsylvania State University

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Qi Dunsworth is the Director of Teaching Initiatives at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College. She holds a master's degree in Communication Studies and a Ph.D. in Educational Technology. At Behrend, she supports faculty in classroom teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning. She has created a series of faculty teaching workshops and is the recipient of several grants for course revision, educational research, and professional development.

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This work-in-progress paper studies a particular method of creating and utilizing digital homework. Online homework systems are prevalent in many STEM fields. Such systems are valued for their ability to save time for faculty in preparing and grading homework assignments as well as for providing immediate feedback to the students. However, such systems also make it difficult to identify which students are actually working through the problems, and which students are obtaining their solutions illegitimately. In this work, a system was designed to randomly generate unique custom problems and track user activities as they attempted to solve the problem. The system generates a random pipe flow problem incorporating major and minor head losses for a junior level mechanical engineering fluid mechanics course. Assignment performance, exam performance, and user feedback were collected over two separate semesters for a total of 58 students. Analysis of the results is ongoing. Preliminary analysis has indicated a potential correlation between the use of the assignment and improved performance on related exam problems. Additionally, the survey responses indicated that the students appreciated the ability to attempt a problem multiple times, receive immediate feedback on the correctness of their answer, and receive hints that allow them to check portions of their analysis.

Beevers, D., & Dunsworth, Q. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Homework in the Digital Age: The Implementation, Effects, and Perception of Randomly Generated Custom Digital Assignments Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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