What is it?
WeBWorK is a free open source Perl-based system for delivering individualized homework problems over the web. It gives students instant feedback as to whether or not their answers are correct. By providing students with immediate feedback as to the correctness of their answers, they are encouraged to make multiple attempts until they succeed. By individualizing problems, cheating is discouraged. By providing instructors with real-time statistics, lesson plans can be customized to better serve students.
WeBWorK is developed and supported by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and comes with a Open Problem Library (OPL) of over 20,000 homework problems.
WeBWorK is used successfully at over 240 colleges and universities from large research institutions to small teaching colleges. WeBWorK has been developed and maintained by mathematicians since 1994, with the overarching goal of always providing the mathematical community with the most robust, flexible, and mathematically capable online homework system possible.
WeBWork at UBC
An instance of WeBWorK has been used by the Mathematics Department at UBC since it was piloted in Fall 2009. Since then, it has become widely used in the Mathematics Department, the Statistics Department, and has also been adopted in other departments across campus. The current instance is deployed in a high availability environment using UBC IT infrastructure, providing a reliable service to all faculties across UBC.
WeBWorK is widely used in math courses around the world, but its adoption in statistics has been limited. One reason is that while WebWork implements a broad range of arithmetic and calculus-type operations, it has little support for statistical concepts such as probability distributions or statistical models.
The WeBWorKiR (WeBWorK integrating R) project offers a solution in the form of integration between WeBWorK and the statistical computing software R. The open source software R is extremely popular in statistical research, analysis, and education. It provides a huge range of operations for statistical computation and graphics. The WeBWorKiR project has two main goals: (i) to allow WeBWorK to communicate with R and (ii) the creation of a large collection of homework questions for use in undergraduate instruction in statistics. With the WeBWorKiR project, instructors can use R code in their WebWorK problems to generate data, perform analyses, and create figures.
WeBWorKiR has been developed in the Department of Statistics since June 2012, with the funding from Teaching and Learning Improvement Fund. It has been used in a number of second- and third-year Statistics courses at UBC, reaching around 3000 students so far. The aim is that problems created and tested on students through the WeBWorKiR project are made available to all educators via WeBWorK's Open Problem Library.
If you are an instructor, please look at the authoring guide for information on writing WebWork questions that make use of R. If you are a WebWork system administrator, you can find setup information in our installation guide.
Uses and Benefits
Each question in a WeBWork practice test, assignment or exam will provide immediate feedback to students if their responses are correct. It can help students asses their own knowledge on a specific topic.
Allowing multiple attempts provides students a chance to reflect on what they know and what they need to know.
Although not currently enabled at UBC, WeBWork also allows for customized hints when a student answers a question incorrectly.
Questions in a WeBWork problem set or assignment is randomized. Each student will be given a unique assessment experience that discourages cheating.
Effective teaching requires instructors to continually reflect on our past teaching experiences and adapt our courses based on feedback or evaluations .
WeBWork collects statistical data for each problem set that help you customize your course or lesson plans. You can see data on areas such as the average number of attempts on a question and percentage of students who got a question correct.
Students can also see their own progress in the course with data from their responses to assignments and tests.
- Chickering, A. W., & Ehrmann, S. C. (1996). Implementing the seven principles. AAHE Bulletin, 49(2), 2-4. 
- Theory and Research-based Principles of Learning, Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, Carnegie Mellon University, http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/principles/learning.html.
- Teaching Principles, Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, Carnegie Mellon University, http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/principles/teaching.html
WeBWork has provided access to two demo courses. Please follow the instructions at: http://webwork.maa.org/wiki/WeBWorK_Sites#.UH8qv2nyY5M under "Demos" in the "Introduction" menu tab.
Explore the WeBWork map to learn where WeBWork is currently in use.
WeBWorK is integrated with Connect, which provides an auto-provisioning roster and grade synchronization.
To use WebWork, simply login to your Connect course and follow the instructions to create your WeBWorK course. Once you've created your WeBWorK course, you and your students will be able to login to the course either from Connect or from the WeBWorK home page directly.
To reuse assignments from a previously-offered course, please follow these instructions to copy the assignments. The list of previously-offered WebWorK courses is available here (this link is also available on the WeBWorK homepage).
To create a WeBWork course for a merged-section course, please contact one of your instructional support staff members from your faculty to merge the sections in Connect first.
To develop new problems for your WeBWork course and share them with your colleagues at UBC, see the information available here
Faculty of Science:
- Kalev Hunt
- Instructional Technologies Analyst
- Phone: 604.827.1546
Other Faculties: Please find your faculty contact on the Faculty Support Units page
The Department of Statistics usually offers two training sessions on the WeBWorK on-line homework system during Reading Week.
If you have any questions about these sessions or WeBWorK in general, please contact Bruce Dunham at email@example.com.
For more information, please check out UBC's WeBWorK pages on the UBC Wiki.
The WeBWorK Wiki by the Mathematical Association of America has an extensive library of resources on how to use WeBWork. Some resources we want to highlight are:
All UBC resources on WeBWork can be found here on the UBC Wiki.
Archived WeBWorK courses (courses that were offered in previous terms and sessions) can be found on the Archived WeBWork Course Listing.
For more questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Experiment with the different functionalities of the tool, take time learn WeBWork.
- Find some time to orient students in the WeBWork environment.
- Create low/no-impact assignments and tests to provide opportunities for students to assess what they have learned.
- Use the statistics page to learn which topics might need more time in class.