Donna Flint is a Professor and Assistant Department Head at . She has taught there for 12 years in a number of courses ranging from Basic Algebra to Calculus to Senior and Graduate Level Analysis Courses.
How long have you used?
This fall was actually my first semester using WebAssign in my own class, though I have used other on-line systems and am familiar with the program because of my role as administrator in the department. I used it in an Honors Calculus II class and in a Matrix Algebra course for homework.
What WebAssign features do you use/like most?
I liked the access to the e-book with videos for students. I also liked the capability of writing my own questions. I did this to write reading questions for my Matrix Algebra course. Of course, I also like the fact that my students can do homework and get feedback without me having to grade piles of papers!
What are some of your best practice methods concerning WebAssign or teaching in general?
- I allow for extensions with penalty (automatically allowed).
- I allow students 3 tries per question. I started out the semester allowing 5 tries per question, but students complained the homework took too long. If they missed the question and then used the help tool, they were able to determine if their concept understanding was correct. If it was, they just needed to find a small error somewhere. Allowing fewer tries meant that instead of trying to find their errors all night, they would stop at two tries and then ask in class or come to my office for help. At that time, I could verify that their concept understanding was correct and that they did indeed only have a small error.
- I make my assignments due at 5:00 pm. I think this encourages students to do their work during the day when they can get help if needed.
- I like the idea of reading questions to help students learn how to read a textbook. Students find that difficult and frequently complain about it, but I think it is one of the skills our students really lack that prevents them from becoming independent learners. So many students (even through their senior year) just want their lecture and the answers.
How would your new feature suggestion impact your teaching?
My new feature of allowing for the override of a grade on an individual problem would just make it easier to grade. Students often want to go over their homework and if I am willing to give them partial credit for their work, it would be nice to be able to record that per problem, rather than have to change the entire grade. If I want to go back later, I’d like to know where the extra points were assigned.
We also use WebAssign in a large lecture environment. Students take their exams online, but we still grade some of the problems for partial credit. Our TA’s grade the partial credit problems and it would be much easier if they could award (or remove points) per problem – instead of having to record changes then post them as total changes. This would also allow the students and instructors to know what caused a grade change.