Carole Simard is a part-time mathematics lecturer at California Polytechnic State University, and a part-time mathematics instructor at Cuesta Community College, both located in San Luis Obispo, CA. She took the time to answer a few of our questions below.
How long have you used WebAssign?
I have been using WebAssign since September 2009 for homework assignments.
What WebAssign features do you use most or find the most useful?
The features I use frequently are the assignment creation, assignment scheduling, course creation, grade override, and the assignment extension features. However, the WebAssign feature that I use most is viewing assignment responses in the Gradebook summary.
What are some of your best practice methods concerning WebAssign or teaching in general?
Since I believe it is important for students to develop good mathematics notation, I assign a few homework problems to be turned in on paper alongside their online work. This allows students to practice notation and solving problems step by step and also receive feedback before taking quizzes and exams on paper where these things are graded. However, I assign most of the homework problems on WebAssign to expose students to a broader variety of problems and to allow them to take advantage of the great features offered by WebAssign such as immediate feedback, extra practice of similar problems, in line tutorial, video tutorials, and digital access to the book.
Homework assignments, both WebAssign and paper, are usually due on Friday at the beginning of class. I sometimes allow extensions for extenuating circumstances, which is easily managed through WebAssign. To encourage students to think about the problems which are assigned on WebAssign, I limit the number of answer submission to three. If, however, they get the correct answer after using their three tries, I use the override option to give them an additional point, especially at the beginning of the session when they are not yet completely familiar with the syntax of WebAssign. I find that a few weeks into the session there are rarely requests for additional points.
How would your new feature suggestion impact your classroom?
A new sort & search feature on the assignment list would improve the administration of WebAssign for my classes. Teaching different courses using WebAssign generates many assignments and I have found myself spending a fair amount of time looking for a particular assignment which I may have created several months earlier or updated at some other time. Having the possibility to filter assignments across all courses by book, name, date, type as well as the ability to search for specific assignments quickly would be very helpful. Additionally, adding the ability to organize and group assignments together would be useful too.