Getting Students to Use WebAssign
Posted February 1, 2011on:
- Many kids don’t do their homework
- Many kids copy their homework from the kid that does his/her homework
- The kid that does his/her homework tends to do well in the class
- The kid that copies his/her homework tends to not do well in class
WebAssign allows me to give them an assignment they can’t copy since each student gets a different set of numbers in the problem. Oh sure, some still don’t do their homework, but the zero in the grade book is indisputable when we can pull up the WebAssign grade for Mom and Dad. The kids have a week to do an online assignment. No, the dog did not eat your computer. No, you had a week to do it. No, I don’t take late work.
My homework template was set up to allow up to five entries on an assignment. At first, there was no penalty for getting it wrong. I did an experiment in my calculus class and penalized them 10% for each incorrect attempt after the first two attempts. The kids really resented that. I think they felt like they were willing to keep trying, they didn’t want to be penalized for not quitting. Lesson learned, next experiment.
Recently I tried a new approach (ah, the scientific method at work). I started giving 10%-20% extra credit for completing the assignment 48 hours before it is due. With the assignment due Mondays at 8am (the start of school), I was getting a bunch of “help me” emails on Sunday evening. The extra credit was an attempt to reduce these emails. What I found is that more of the students were completing the work and doing it ahead of time. Yahoo! They will do their work if they feel they can boost their grade with extra credit. The reality is most of them don’t earn the extra credit, but they get the points for doing their work, and these online assignments are equivalent to a quiz grade every week.
But wait, this gets even better (I’m smiling as I write this). The kids think they outsmarted me. Ready for this … they are getting together to work on the problems. Oh, I don’t know, call it … a study group. AAAHHH!!