Friday Funny!



With all of the snow lately we thought we would post this appropriately themed Friday Funny. Email us with your Friday Funnies!

Using Formative Assessment to Support Large Classes

One professor’s solution to engaging 600 students in one semester

John D. Hopkins, a senior instructor of physics at Penn State, is a seasoned educator who has taught everything from middle school science and math to college-level physics. Hopkins, who is certified in PA for Physics and Mathematics, has taught for 17 years at the university level.John Hopkins

Hopkins has developed a student-centered classroom where his lectures, materials, and activities are designed specifically to address any student issues and support learning. To achieve his goals, Hopkins uses formative assessment tools, as well as direct student feedback. The challenge is that Hopkins has well over 600 students in his two classes and formative assessment requires him to collect vast amounts of data throughout the semester. He must evaluate comprehension, assess learning needs, and monitor academic progress. He also strives to avert mislearning among his students, so he routinely analyzes individual student data to quickly identify and correct any issues.

Technology plays a critical role to enable formative assessment in Hopkins’ classroom. For 15 years Hopkins has used WebAssign to support his student-centered teaching style because it automates a number of tasks, including instant grading and data collection. What’s more, WebAssign offers a robust variety of additional content and resources to reinforce learning comprehension.

With WebAssign, Hopkins can quickly assemble and sort through student data to find topics or concepts that are causing difficulty. He can then give his students timely feedback on their work or adjust his classroom lectures to focus on a difficult topic. One of the features he relies on is the Grades Response Summary, which monitors student progress on each question. Additionally, WebAssign’s instant feedback and Practice Another Version feature, which provides students with multiple versions of each problem, are useful tools for students. “There’s nothing worse than having a student believe for a week or so that they’ve been doing problems correctly only to find out that they were mistaken. Immediate feedback helps to eliminate this and encourages students to seek help prior to mislearning a topic,” says Hopkins.

WebAssign is also helpful when a student misses class. Hopkins has multiple recitation activities that are designed for students who legitimately miss class. The makeup activities provide the same type of practice as the “in class” activity. This has eliminated a large number of makeups and helps individuals to stay on track during the semester.

Friday Funny!

wifi solve

Have a better math/science/teaching joke than this one? Email us to have it posted as one of our future Friday Funnies!

The Testing Effect: Changing Student Behavior with Enhanced WebAssign

We wanted to share a blog post from one of our publisher partners about the Testing Effect, a phenomenon we are passionate about.  Thanks to Rochelle Beatty, Program Manager for TeamUP Peer-to-Peer Faculty Development, for this great article and insight!

Have you ever taken the time to compare the results of your first test to the final grades in your course? If so, you probably noticed a correlation between passing the first exam and passing the course or even persisting until the end of the semester. I remember my mentor explaining this phenomenon to me during my first year teaching college (25+ years ago) and over the years I have realized, she was correct.

In fact, we noticed that only about 40% of our students were successful in passing the first exam (in college algebra) and I found it difficult to move the needle for many years. We attributed their lack of success to their not knowing our method of testing, not understanding the rigor needed in a college level course, not setting aside enough time to study, and the list continues.

We also noticed that when students did not do well on the first test, many times their subsequent test scores did not improve. With the integration of mandatory placement for math classes (at least 15 years ago), I started to see some improvement and the needle moving a little. But it was not enough to “write home about.”

Lately, however, I found an incredible change in my students’ abilities on the first test and contribute this result to using WebAssign as my online homework system. The change is so amazing that not only am I seeing more students persisting in the course and passing my first test, but I am also seeing the first test scores improve. In fact, the first semester I incorporated Enhanced WebAssign into a college algebra course with 18 students, the mean on my first exam was a 76% and the median was an 82%. I was absolutely blown away.

I continued to watch the students as they progressed through the course and realized that they constantly strove for perfection on homework and took as many attempts as needed to accomplish their goal. It seems reasonable to infer that the immediate feedback given to students through the online assessments did not let their learning get cold, but rather encouraged them to develop the correct reasoning. It also increased time on task, which in turn increased exposure to different problems.

Visit the Cengage Blog to read the full article.

WebAssign Sponsors Krispy Kreme Challenge 2015

We were honored to be a sponsor of the Krispy Kreme Challenge once again this year! Two of our employees ran in the race this year and had a great time!

The Krispy Kreme Challenge was started in December 2004 as a dare between a few NC State undergraduate students. Participants begin the Challenge at the Memorial Belltower. Runners then travel 2.5 miles through historic downtown Raleigh to the Krispy Kreme located at the intersection of Peace and Person Streets, where they attempt to consume one dozen original glazed doughnuts. The hardest part of the Challenge awaits them as they run 2.5 miles back to the Memorial Belltower.

What started as a challenge among friends has transformed into a nationally publicized charity race, and the number one tradition to complete before graduating from North Carolina State University. This annual event raises money for the North Carolina Children’s Hospital and last year the cumulative total donated was $758,000.




Marachi band


Friday Funny!

Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, we thought we would post our Valentine’s Friday Funnies! We hope you have a great Valentine’s Day and share the scientific love!














WebAssign’s Pet Photo Contest

We recently held a company wide pet photo contest and the entries were absolutely adorable! Take a look at the pictures below to add a little sunshine to your day.

PicMonkey Collage

Congrats to the winner of the contest, Nancy Marchant and her cat “Loaf.” You can find Loaf in the very center of our collage!