Happy Halloween!

We wanted to celebrate Halloween with a card created by one of our content coders using WebAssign graphing code.  You can add this card to your own assignments and share with your students and other instructors using the Question ID: 2748782.

Halloween graph

Also, check out the photos on our Facebook page of all the great costumes from the WebAssign October birthday celebration!

Sixteen New Cengage Textbooks Now Available in WebAssign

We are excited to announce the addition of sixteen new mathematics titles now enhanced with WebAssign. The textbooks are published by Cengage Learning, a global publisher of print and digital information services, and augment our already extensive textbook collection. The majority of these new titles will be supplemented with an e-book and student support features such as Master It tutorials and videos.

“We are proud to provide professors with a selection of more than 400 mathematics textbooks supported by WebAssign,” said Jennifer Ferralli, WebAssign mathematics product manager. “Through our strong relationship with Cengage, teachers and students benefit from a content-rich and enhanced online learning environment that fully complements the classroom teaching experience.”

Sample assignments are available for all sixteen titles that span multiple mathematics disciplines such as prealgebra, calculus, and statistics. Featured titles from this new collection include:

And stay tuned because we expect to launch an additional set of Cengage textbook titles in early 2014.

For more information on WebAssign please visit www.webassign.net, or call 800.955.8275 or 919.829.8181.

15 Anniversaries for our 15th Anniversary: 10/27 – 11/2

To celebrate WebAssign’s 15th anniversary, each Monday we will be bringing you 15 anniversaries in science, technology, mathematics, and education that you can look forward to throughout the week. Here are some important dates in history coming up this week:

October 27

1961 – The first Saturn I rocket is tested by NASA during the mission Saturn-Apollo 1. The Saturn I was NASA’s first heavy-lift rocket, and its successful test paved the way for the later Saturn V rocket used during NASA’s manned Apollo missions.

October 28

1912 – English physiologist Richard Doll is born. Doll’s research on the epidemiology of cancer brings attention to many of its environmental causes. Doll’s work demonstrates a causal link between inhalation of tobacco smoke, and asbestos, and lung cancer.

1914 – American biologist and physician Jonas Salk is born. Salk develops the first successful polio vaccine. Salk’s research reduces the global cases of polio by 99.9% in the following decades.

1914 – English biochemist Richard Laurence Millington Synge is born. Synge receives the Nobel prize for developing an important method of identifying and separating chemicals in a solution, called partition chromatography. This method of chromatography is used a few years later by Frederick Sanger to determine the structure of insulin, a project which earned Sanger the Nobel prize.

1948 – Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller receives the Nobel prize for demonstrating the insecticidal properties of DDT.

October 29

1675 – The German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz first uses the long s to denote the integral in calculus.

1920 – Venezuelan-American immunologist Baruj Benacerraf is born. Benacerraf receives the Nobel prize for discovering the genes that relate to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The MHC is related to how the human body’s immune system distinguishes its own cells from the cells of foreign bodies or pathogens.

1969 – Remote communication between two computers is established for the first time over ARPANET, a precursor to the Internet. The first message that is attempted to be sent is the word “login”, however the system failed after sending the first two letters, making the first message transmitted to be “lo”.

1998 – John Glenn becomes the oldest person to go into space at age 77, when he launches aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on NASA’s mission STS-95.

October 30

1844 – American chemist Harvey Washington Wiley is born. Wiley becomes the first commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA). It is under Wiley’s leadership that the FDA enacts the Pure Food and Drug Act, which enforces the accurate labeling of drugs and medicines.

1895 – German bacteriologist Gerhard Domagk is born. Domagk creates the first commercially available antibiotic, the first in the class of drugs called sulfonamides. Domagk receives the Nobel prize for his work.

1941 – German physicist Theodor W. Hänsch is born. Hänsch receives the Nobel prize for creating a precise form of spectroscopy using lasers.

November 1

1963 – The largest radio telescope ever constructed, the Arecibo Observatory, opens.

November 2

1929 – Canadian physicist Richard E. Taylor is born. Taylor performs experiments on how electrons are deflected when they are directed at high energies toward protons and neutrons. Taylor’s research provides the first experimental evidence that protons and neutrons are made from point-like particles, called quarks. This research also provided the first experimental evidence for the existence of gluons. Taylor receives the Nobel prize for this research.

2000 – The first crew scheduled for a long-duration residence docks with the International Space Station (ISS).

Friday Funny!


Have a better math/science/teaching joke than this one? Send it in here to be posted as one of our Friday Funnies!

Force Concept Inventory & WebAssign

One of the major findings of physics education research over the past 30 years is that students can often learn how to successfully solve certain types of physics problems while still having very little qualitative understanding of the underlying physics concepts.  The research behind this finding is built upon valid, reliable, and repeatable measurements of students’ conceptual understanding.  Researchers have developed a number of tools to make these measurements, including standardized multiple choice instruments.  Probably the most well known of these is the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), first published by David Hestenes, Malcolm Wells, and Gregg Swackhamer in 1992.

The FCI consists of 30 questions designed to assess conceptual understanding in several areas of mechanics, including kinematics, Newton’s laws, superposition, and types of forces.  Each question has a single Newtonian correct answer with several distractors based on students’ common-sense misconceptions. The test is designed to be administered twice: first as a pre-course assessment of students’ understanding before instruction, and again at the end of the course. By comparing the pre-test to post-test gains on the FCI, instructors can easily evaluate how well their students improved in conceptual understanding in mechanics. Furthermore, because it is so widely used, FCI gains can be compared across or within institutions to compare the effectiveness of different pedagogies.


As part of our commitment to helping instructors improve the educational experience for their students, WebAssign is pleased to provide the FCI as an additional resource available to all instructors, at no additional cost. Furthermore, for instructors not currently using WebAssign, we can provide free access to students for the express purpose of using the FCI.  Contact us for more information today!

Important Usage Notes

The FCI questions are provided by WebAssign for the express purpose of administering the assessment as a complete assignment. Use of these questions as an additional bank of questions for homework or student practice is prohibited by our agreement with the authors.  If you wish to give the FCI as a pre/post test, we recommend using the  pre-made assignment, “Mechanics Survey” (assignment ID 236170), which contains the recommended settings for the test, and scheduling it as a password-protected, timed assignment, using WebAssign’s Lockdown Browser.  For help, see “Scheduling Quizzes and Tests”  in WebAssign’s Instructor Support, or contact us for more information.

Adding FCI Assessment to Your WebAssign Course

If you are creating a new course:

From your home page, click Create, then select Course. This brings you to the Creating a New Course page.  Fill in your course information and select your textbook, as usual.  Under the heading Textbooks on the right side of the page is a scroll box labeled Select any additional resources that you would like to use. Check the box next to Force Concept Inventory.

If you are adding this resource to an existing course:

From the ClassView page, click Edit Class Settings in the Class Tools box.  This brings you to the Class Settings page.  Under the heading Section Information, on the right side of the page, click Add Textbooks & Additional Resources.  In the window that pops up, under the heading Additional Resources, scroll to:  Hestenes, Wells, and Swackhamer, Force Concept Inventory and click this entry to highlight it, then click Save.

For more information about the collection of additional resources that WebAssign offers please refer to our Online Instructor Support.


15 Anniversaries for our 15th Anniversary: 10/20 – 10/26

To celebrate WebAssign’s 15th anniversary, each Monday we will be bringing you 15 anniversaries in science, technology, mathematics, and education that you can look forward to throughout the week. Here are some important dates in history coming up this week:

October 20

1942 – German biologist Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is born. Nüsslein-Volhard studies the embryonic development of fruit flies, making fundamental discoveries regarding how genes direct a single cell to develop into a multicellular organism. Nüsslein-Volhard receives the Nobel prize for her research.

October 21

1833 – Swedish chemist and inventor Alfred Nobel is born. Nobel patents a mixture of explosive nitroglycerin stabilized by diatomaceous earth, calling it dynamite. After reading that his own, erroneously published obituary in 1888 was titled The merchant of death is dead, Nobel alters his will such that upon his death, 94% of his considerable fortune is used to establish the five Nobel Prizes.

1957 – German physicist Wolfgang Ketterle is born. Ketterle researches cooling atoms to temperatures near absolute zero, and is one of the first to create a Bose-Einstein condensate. Ketterle receives the Nobel prize for his research.

1958 – Russian-English physicist Sir Andre Konstantin Geim is born. Geim discovers a simple method for isolating the nanomaterial graphene, one-atom-thick sheets of carbon. Geim receives the Nobel prize for his study of graphene.

2003 – The first pictures of the dwarf planet, Eris, are taken at the Palomar Observatory.

October 22

1881 – American physicist Clinton Davisson is born. Davisson shows that electrons exhibit particle-wave duality by demonstrating electron diffraction. Davisson receives the Nobel prize for his research.

1903 – American geneticist George Wells Beadle is born. Beadle creates mutant bread mold by exposing it to x-rays. By studying the mutations, Beadle discovers the link between genes and the enzymes that are involved in metabolic pathways. Beadle receives the Nobel Prize for his research.

1975 – The Soviet space probe Venera 9 lands on Venus. The Venera 9 lander becomes the first spacecraft to return images from another planet.

October 23

1873 – American physicist and inventor William D. Coolidge is born. Coolidge develops a workable form of tungsten that is eventually used to create filaments for light bulbs. Coolidge improves upon the existing methods of producing x-rays, creating the Coolidge x-ray tube.

1875 – American chemist Gilbert N. Lewis is born. Lewis makes several discoveries that are fundamental to the field of physical chemistry. Lewis discovers covalent bonds, and invents the Lewis structure method of drawing the bonds between atoms of a molecule. Lewis also develops a specific definition of acids and bases, and coins the word “photon” to describe a quantum of light.

1905 – Swiss physicist Felix Bloch is born. Bloch develops the Bloch equations, which describe how the phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance affects atomic nuclei over a period of time. Bloch receives the Nobel prize for his work.

1908 – Russian physicist Ilya Frank is born. Frank receives the Nobel prize for his explanation of the phenomenon of Cherenkov radiation.

1920 – Japanese-American meteorologist Ted Fujita is born. Fujita discovers the atmospheric phenomena of downbursts and microbursts. He also develops the Fujita scale (or F-Scale) to categorize the strength of tornadoes.

October 24

1632 – Dutch microbiologist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is born. Leeuwenhoek makes several discoveries which are foundational to the field of microbiology, including improvements to the microscope. Leeuwenhoek discovers microorganisms, bacteria, and is the first to observe blood flow in capillaries.

1908 – Canadian geologist John Tuzo Wilson is born. Wilson makes several fundamental contributions to the theory of plate tectonics. Wilson also contributes to the supercontinent cycle theory, which becomes known as the Wilson cycle.

Friday Funny!

A Capella Science- Bohemian Gravity