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Getting the Most Out of Online Homework Session S158 George Woodbury College of the Sequoias Visalia, CA

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Benefits of Incorporating Online Homework

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Potential Conflicts

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Conflict #1 Learning vs. Copying (or worse)

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Copying Overuse of Learning Aids Tutor Other Hired Help

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Conflict #2 Student vs. Instructor

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My Traditional Approach (Algebra) Homework (1 assignment/section) Quizzes (2 quizzes/chapter) 20-30% of total grade

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If homework is worth 30% of the course grade … Students only need to score 40/70 (57%) of the remaining points in order to pass the class.

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Help Your Students Understand the Purpose of Homework

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Explain How the Learning Aids Work, and How to Avoid Abuse

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Student Best Practices Document Located on my website: georgewoodbury.com (You can also email me for a copy.)

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Don’t just guess or look for patterns. When you hand in an exam, your instructor won’t say “That’s wrong. Guess again.”

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Keep a notebook for working out homework problems. You will have to do these problems by hand on your exam – you should do your homework the same way. When you get a problem wrong, you need to be able to figure out why.

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Don’t copy & paste your way through the assignment. What will you copy from during the exam?

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Don’t over rely on step-by-step solutions. What will happen during the exam when you ask your instructor to walk you through a problem, step-by-step?

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The video lectures are a helpful tool. While these videos are an excellent supplement, they are not intended to replace your classroom lecture. Don’t skip class because you can always watch the video later.

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TWO APPROACHES THAT MOTIVATE STUDENTS

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Approach 1: Student Contracts

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My First Contract With My Students Any student who meets the following criteria will have the option of completing a final cumulative assignment instead of taking the final exam. In such a situation, the student will keep the grade that they had before the final.

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Criteria for Contract Perfect scores on all online homework assignments Online quiz average of at least 80% No more than 2 absences Exam average of at least 70%

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Results Fall 2007 My Class With Contract Spring 2007 My Classes No Contract Fall 2007 Campus Wide Pass48.3% Fail33.8% Drop17.9% Retention82.1%

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Results Fall 2007 My Class With Contract Spring 2007 My Classes No Contract Fall 2007 Campus Wide Pass49.4%48.3% Fail36.5%33.8% Drop14.1%17.9% Retention85.9%82.1%

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Results Fall 2007 My Class With Contract Spring 2007 My Classes No Contract Fall 2007 Campus Wide Pass68.5%49.4%48.3% Fail22.2%36.5%33.8% Drop9.3%14.1%17.9% Retention90.7%85.9%82.1%

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Comparison To Prior Semester Test Averages Average Fall ’07 With Contract Spring ’07 No Contract A35%12% B39%21% C12%36% D8%9% F6%22%

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Comparison To Prior Semester Success Rate, by Exam Fall 2007 With Contract Spring 2007 No Contract Test 1 – Transition83%74% Test 2 – Radicals79%55% Test 3 – Quadratic80%62% Test 4 – Functions76%61% Test 5 – Exp./Logs71%36% Test 6 – Conics94%92%

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Comparison To Prior Semester Percentage of A’s, by Exam Fall 2007 With Contract Spring 2007 No Contract Test 1 – Transition44%30% Test 2 – Radicals42%20% Test 3 – Quadratic35%24% Test 4 – Functions41%21% Test 5 – Exp./Logs33%12% Test 6 – Conics92%76%

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Comparison To Prior Semester Mean Score, by Exam Fall 2007 With Contract Spring 2007 No Contract Test 1 – Transition83.077.6 Test 2 – Radicals79.667.6 Test 3 – Quadratic79.773.8 Test 4 – Functions81.071.8 Test 5 – Exp./Logs75.058.3 Test 6 – Conics93.188.5

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Outcome Students understood that the goal of the class was to learn and understand the material. Students knew that they had to perform well on exams to earn the benefit(s) of the contract, and that doing well on the homework was the best way to do well on the exams. The perks obtained from the contract were a significant extrinsic motivator.

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Approach 2: Mastery Learning & Elements of Game Design

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Grading System I wanted to create a grading system that was not just a translation of the standard grading scale.

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Test Grades Tests are graded pass (70% or above) or fail. Pass = 1 Point, Fail = 0 Points Homework and quizzes do not directly count towards a student’s grade, but instead can be used to “level up”.

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Leveling Up Students who have satisfactory online homework scores (90% on each assignment) and online quiz scores (70% on each quiz) level up and have a chance to earn bonuses.

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Bonus Earned 70-79% on test: 2 points (instead of 1) 80-100% on test: 3 points (instead of 1)

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Mastery Learning Leveled up, but failed test: Students can retest the following week for 1 point

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Points Available 25 points available before final 6 tests (up to 3 points each) 1 test is doubled 4 points for final review quiz/homework assignment 100 points from final exam

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Grades A: 100 points B: 88 points C: 76 points

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Results Only 1 drop from 47 students (98% retention) 3 students did not take the final A: 15 B: 8 C: 5 D: 4 F: 14 33% A’s, 61% Success

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Common Final Results 43 of my students took a common final exam, along with 101 students from different classes/instructors.

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Common Final Results Mean: 12.5 higher than control group Median: 14 higher than control group Median was greater than Q3 for control

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Semester 2 Intermediate Algebra Mean score increased by 6.4 points Median score increased by 11 points Elementary Algebra Mean: 77.2 Median: 81.5 Q1: 75

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Historical Results – Now in Semester 5 Typical Exam: 60% level up Leveled Up: Success rate of approximately 90% on exams Did Not Level Up: Success rate of approximately 50% on exams

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Outcome Students knew that homework scores only mattered if they were successful on exams. Students understood that they were to use the online homework to learn and understand the material. The perks obtained from “leveling up” were a significant extrinsic motivator.

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Summary

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Make Students Aware of Benefits Gained from Doing Homework the “Right Way”

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Make Students Aware of Pitfalls of Not Doing Homework the “Right Way”

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Create a Grading System that Encourages Doing Homework, but Puts the Emphasis on Learning and Understanding

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Contact Information Email: georgew@cos.edu Web Site: georgewoodbury.com Twitter: @georgewoodbury

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