WebWork

What is it?

WeBWork logo.png

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 always with the goal of 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 in Pilot phase from Fall 2009. Up until now, it is widely used in Mathematics Department, Statistics Department and also adopted by some other departments as well. The current instance has been deployed on a high availability environment UBC IT infrastructure, providing a reliable service to all faculties across UBC.

WeBWorKiR

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

Immediate Feedback

Research has shown that good teaching practice gives prompt feedback to students [1] and goal-directed practice with targeted feedback can enhance student learning [2].

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.

When students answer a question incorrectly, they will be given immediate feedback. (Click to enlarge)

Individualized Problems

Questions in a WeBWork problem set or assignment is randomized. Each student will be given a unique assessment experience that discourages cheating.

Above are examples of the same problem set but with different first questions for 2 different students. (Click to enlarge)

Real-time Statistics

Effective teaching requires instructors to continually reflect on our past teaching experiences and adapt our courses based on feedback or evaluations [3].

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.

Above is an example of the statistics for an assignment. (Click to enlarge)

References

  1. Chickering, A. W., & Ehrmann, S. C. (1996). Implementing the seven principles. AAHE Bulletin, 49(2), 2-4. [1]
  2. Theory and Research-based Principles of Learning, Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, Carnegie Mellon University, http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/principles/learning.html.
  3. Teaching Principles, Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, Carnegie Mellon University, http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/principles/teaching.html

Examples

WeBWork has provided access to two demo courses. Please follow the instructions at: http://webwork.maa.org/wiki/WeBWorK_Sites#.UH8qv2nyY5M under Demos.

Explore the WeBWork map to learn where WeBWork is currently in use.

Get Started

WeBWorK is integrated with Connect, providing self-provisioning, roster and grade synchronization.

To use WebWork, just simply login to your Connect course and following the instruction to create your webwork course. Once you created WeBWorK course, you and your students will be able to login the course either from Connect or from WeBWorK home page.

For reusing the assignemnts from previous year courses, please following the instruction to copy the assignments. The list of previous year courses is available here (this links is also available on the WeBWorK homepage).

For merged section course and/or adding TA to the course, please contact your instructional support staff within your faculty to merge the sections in Connect first.

To develop new problems for your webwork course and share with your colleagues at UBC, check out here

Science:


Training Sessions

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 b.dunham@stat.ubc.ca.

For more information, please check out WeBWorK wiki

Resources

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:

UBC

All UBC resources on WeBWork can be found at: Documentation:WeBWorK

The old courses are listed here: Documentation:WeBWorK/Course_Listing

Support

For more questions, please contact webwork.support@ubc.ca.

Tips

source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:WeBWorK/eLearning

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