Student reactions to WeBWorK

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Immediate feedback is the key educational advantage of WeBWorK as recognized by the students themselves. When asked on anonymous surveys:

Does the immediate feedback provided by the WeBWorK system enhance the educational value of solving homework problems? Please provide a number between 1 and 5 where 1 means strongly disagree while 5 means strongly agree.

most students responded with a 5 and made comments such as:

I can fix my mistakes while [the] problem is fresh in my mind.

Yes, because if it is wrong you know it is and have time to fix it. Also you can realize your weaknesses.

I understand the problems better when given the ability to correct them.

It was helpful in learning from mistakes.

I loved it. It helped me develop on my skills.

Yes, because it makes no sense to do a problem wrong and think it is right!

It definitely does. I think this is the strongest point of W.W.

It was helpful in learning from mistakes & seeing mistakes.

Yes, because it gives us a chance to correct our own mistakes which helps me learn better.

Students have a strong incentive to, in the words of yet another student, "work on the problem until ...[they] get it right" and our experience is that they do so. In contrast, when home work is graded by hand, often students will not receive corrected assignments until a week or more after the assignment was completed. By then, the problems are no longer fresh in the mind of the student and further the student does not have a strong incentive to understand his or her errors. In fact the student is probably more concerned with the next homework assignment.

Student evaluations rate the WeBWorK system highly. When asked on a mid-semester survey whether they preferred a section using WeBWorK or a section using a traditional homework system with hand written and hand graded solutions, all but one student preferred the WeBWorK section. When the same question was asked on an end of the semester survey, all students preferred the WeBWorK section.

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