Homework Of The Next Generation

Online Homework and Instant Feedback

Students are anxious to get instant feedback and responses on their homework. College kids’ lives are fast paced, and their homework needs to have fast replies as well. Online homework appears to be becoming very popular in finance, math, and science classes (Kodippili and Senaratne 928). The subject has been viewed in both a positive and a negative standpoint. Studies have been performed in an attempt to reach a conclusion as to whether students have more success with electronic homework compared to traditional written homework. The youth of this generation is known as the “digital natives”, thus technological advances in online homework will become even more common in students’ lives. Students who are assigned online homework get better grades, and the homework also leads to higher scores on tests (Bonham, Beichner, Deardorff 293).

Not only does online homework benefit youths, but it also helps instructors. They no longer need to spend hours grading hundreds of assignments and then individually returning them in class. The instant feedback that is provided by online programs eliminates passé, laborious homework checking.

Setting Options

Teachers who use online homework have options in the specific settings that they use. In one accounting class the “online homework accounted for 13% of the final grade for the MBA class and 23% in the undergraduate class” (Smolira 92). Instructors for this accounting class used a system called Homework Manager which gave them the option to choose the number of problems for each assignment based on the prediction that it will take an approximate amount of minutes to complete (Smolira 92). “For each homework assignment the instructor allowed one to five times or an unlimited number of times…however, to receive credit for the assignment, the grade on the homework had to be 70% or higher. A homework grade below 70% was counted as a 0” (Smolira 92). Some people think this is unfair, but it creates a way to encourage students to think actively about the homework and pay attention in class. Another setting that teachers can adjust is the time frame for when each assignment is due. For this accounting class “the end date for each homework was assigned to be one week after the expected completion of the chapter material. This schedule encouraged students to complete the work while the material was fresh” (Smolira 92). Emily Stroker, a student at the University of Colorado, comments, “Right after I get out of my lecture I immediately do my online homework, so I can get it out of the way and the information is clear…the homework is set up so we can do part of it one time and finish the rest later”. All of these settings make drastic upgrades in this modernized homework, and they are important to the students. Students value the new adjustments to homework because they provide opportunities to help them succeed.


example of instant feedback when question is answered incorrect


example of instant grading feature


example of animations that help with the homework

Complications in the System

Some problems have come up with online homework. An obstacle that students have to work around has been that some of the homework questions have multiple steps. Each step requires the students to round their answers, which can cause trouble due to the amount of decimal places the number is rounded to. To fix this problem the programs created a range for each answer. Another common problem arises when students may enter a number as “5 million” or “5,000,000”. This is very frustrating to them since they ultimately had the correct answer. To fix this problem the teacher must go through each student’s homework manually and regrade the problem (Smolira 92). An additional complication that teachers run into is that the option of multiple submissions may lead to students using the trial-and-error strategy instead of thinking through each question (Bonham, Beichner, Deardorff 293). As these problems appear, the homework programs continue to find solutions and make improvements in the technology.

Results from Online Homework

This generation of youths is very familiar with computers and technology, which is why online homework “may motivate students to do more homework than they normally would have done with pencil and paper” (Dillard-Eggers, et al 9). Since students are have a natural understanding of computers, “it is possible that the use of technology will encourage students to study more” (Dillard-Eggers, et al 11). This same article included a survey in which 233 students were asked if they “believed that the use of on-line homework increased the quality of their study time, and 55% believed that it led to a greater understanding of the topics and problems” (Dillard-Eggers, et al 11). When students believe that their time doing homework is going to be worthwhile it results in them completing the assignments.

Students' Thoughts

Students’ opinions toward online homework have been very positive. A survey was given to the pupils who took the accounting class at Belmont University to find out the perceptions of the effectiveness of online homework. Results showed that students were fond of the assignments. “Eight (16%) of the undergraduates and 10 (33%) of the graduate students reported that it was extremely helpful, and 34 (68%) of the undergraduates and 16 (53%) of the graduates reported that it was somewhat helpful” (Smolira 93). These programs have indirect effects and can even act similar to doing homework right next to a professor because of the instant feedback that is given. Since the programs give explanations when questions are answered incorrect this can save students the hassle of going in to get help from their professors. Another question on the survey displayed that 32 (64%) undergraduates and 21 (70%) graduates think that online homework was more useful, and they benefitted from it more than traditional homework (Smolira 93). The chart below displays this survey.

Question Response Options Undergraduate Graduate (MBA)
How helpful was online homework in improving your understanding of the class? Extremely helpful/ Somewhat helpful 8 (16%)/ 34 (68%) 10 (33%)/ 16 (53%)
Was online homework more valuable than traditional homework assignments? More Helpful 32 (64%) 21 (70%)

College students in large lectures have better success from online homework because it provides more comments than their professors can deliver to each individual student. A separate study done, at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, compared students who took a math course that used the online homework MyMathLab and students who did the same homework but in written form. It was revealed that the students who did the online homework had a 70% success rate while the ones who did traditional homework only had a 49% success rate (Kodippili and Senaratne 928). At the University of Colorado, this can also be seen since often test questions come directly from the electronic homework.

Although most students are positive about online homework, some students have issues with it. Brooke Lambeth, a freshman at the University of Colorado, complains, “Every week I have online math homework due on Wednesday night, but my grade is suffering because can I never remember to do it.” This shows that when some teachers assign the homework they expect their students to be responsible and complete it on time.


example that shows feedback when questions are answered correct

Benefits for Students

There are many helpful details in the online homework programs that help students succeed. College students these days can be busy with multiple classes, jobs, sports teams, and family. Online homework gives them the option to complete it at a time that works into their hectic schedules (Charlesworth, Charlesworth, Vician 1375). In addition to the homework, specific programs such as Mastering Biology, which is used at the University of Colorado in the biology class, also give students the option to do non-required practice homework and tests that do not weigh towards their final grade. Along with the evolution of traditional homework to online homework, electronic versions of textbooks have also been created. Online textbooks still cost money, but they are often cheaper than buying the expensive, hardcover, bulky books. At the beginning of the semester students taking the course are required to pay a fee for the program. Many of the online homework sites, such as Mastering Biology, come with the online version of the book as well. Teachers have also used idea of online resources "in an effort to increase student interaction during lectures they post the notes to the internet" (McCreanor 19). Online homework has caused instructors to produce more online resources that benefit the students.

Students value the instant feedback that they receive when doing their homework, but they also get instant feedback on their grades. A freshman at the University of Colorado, Noelle Scott, explains, “Directly after finishing a problem on my homework I am notified with how many points I got for it. This makes it easy for me to keep track of my grades”. Since the homework immediately grades itself, students no longer need to anxiously wait to get their homework returned.

Benefits for Instructors

Online homework provides professors with less work. Because of this, they are not forced to spend tedious hours grading and correcting homework. Students get frustrated when they are forced to wait weeks for their homework to be returned. Online homework is an effective way to solve this problem. “For large classes there are many issues associated with graded homework; even collecting it may take up a significant portion of class time…and many instructors opt to assign homework, but not to collect or grade it” (Allain and Williams 28). However with online homework the students know that all of their assignments are going to be graded and it increased their chance of completing the homework, which simultaneously raised their overall test scores (Allain and Williams 30). Electronic homework is essentially a way to make more time for instructors as well as satisfy the students.

Cheating-Not a Problem

Many of the technology based homework programs help to eliminate cheating. The system cannot be one hundred percent cheat proof, but the programs randomize variables for each problem (Bonham, Beichner, Deardorff 293). There are many definitions of cheating which makes it a controversial subject (Charlesworth, Charlesworth, Vician 1371). At the University of Colorado, Dr. William Adams encouraged his biology classes to work with each other as they completed their homework. He suggested this because it results in students discussing the concepts in the homework, and it can even help them understand the information better. When students do the homework together they unconsciously provide instant feedback to one another.

Extinction of Traditional Homework

Online homework has been proved to be an effective resource for learning. It provides students with instant feedback along with instant grading. Settings that the programs offer improve the all around quality of homework by allowing instructors to individualize their assignments. Although some complications have come up, solutions have been discovered to correct them. Studies have shown that students generally prefer online homework to traditional homework on account of it being electronic based, which youths are familiar with. Electronic homework allows instructors to focus more on teaching important material, and it does part of their job for them by providing the students with explanations. Ultimately, the instant feedback that students receive improves their understanding of the material, which also helps their test scores. Traditional written assignments will soon be extinct and replaced with the homework of the future: online homework.

By: Greta

Works Cited

Allain, Rhett and Troy Williams. “The Effectiveness of Online Homework in an
Introductory Science Class.” Journal of College Science Teaching Vol. 35
(2006): n. pag. Web. 14 Nov. 2010.

Bonham, Scott, Robert Beichner, and Duane Deardorff. “Online Homework: Does It
Make a Difference?” The Physics Teacher Vol. 39 (2001): n. pag. Web. 14 Nov.

Charlesworth, Paul, Debra D. Charlesworth, and Chelley Vician. “Students’ Perspectives
of the Influence of Web-Enhanced Coursework on Incidences of Cheating.”
Journal of Chemical Education Vol 83 (2006): n. pag. Web. 14 Nov.

Dillard-Eggers, Tommy Wooten, Brad Childs, and John Coker. “Evidence on the
Effectiveness of On-Line Homework.” College Teaching Methods and Styles
Journal Vol 4 No 5 (2008): n. pag. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.

Kodippili, Asitha and Deepthika Senaratne. “Is Computer-Generated Interactive
Mathematics Homework More Effective than Traditional Instructor-Graded
Homework?” British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 39 No 5 (2008): n.
pag. Web. 14 Nov. 2010.

Lambeth, Brooke. Personal Interview. 14 Nov. 2010.

McCreanor, Philip. “Developing a Web-Enhanced Course: A Case Study.” Frontiers in
Education Conference (2000): n. pag. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.

Scott, Noelle. Personal Interview. 14 Nov. 2010.

Smolira, Joseph. “Student Perceptions of Online Homework in Introductory Finance
Courses.” Journal of Education for Business November/December (2008): n. pag.
Web. 14 Nov. 2010.

Stroker, Emily. Personal Interview. 14 Nov. 2010.