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19 April 2007


David Moles

I've learned that I won't actually do the work unless I'm being graded, and sometimes not even then. Until someone qualified is willing to correct homework for free...


This is certainly true for a large number of students. The most useful thing to come up for me in teaching the past couple years has been this web homework system we're using in our calc classes here.

The students get immediate feedback on problems (which all have varying numbers and other parameters, so copying answers isn't feasible, but talking about the idea behind the problem is), and they have 5-6 attempts for each problem (so that they get several chances to try and find their own mistakes), and I get data on how well they're doing with various topics.

It's unfortunate that it's probably really hard to have something like this for most subjects, because it really seems to help the students A LOT. Way more than just assigning recommended problem, and still more than collecting said problems and grading a few random ones. I mean, the content is the same, but the system is just so much better with the web homework.

I'm pretty sure this took quite a long time to develop, but the benefit is really overwhelming.


What puzzles me is that although I agree with everything you're saying, I also find--and hear from other people--that there's a profound passivity about that consumer directed culture. My students don't want to prove me wrong; they want me to prove to them that I'm entertaining. When put in a situation where they recognize an authority model (rather than an entertainment model) they just swallow it up without much critical analysis. They're not stupid or lazy at ALL, they just don't seem to have that model.

Jed Hartman

Interesting thoughts. My only (belated) comment for now is a side note: one of the things that I'm guessing TV producers like about the new multiple-media approach is that it makes things more measurable. If your TV show says "call this phone number to answer this survey" or "go to our website to see an extra clip," then the producers can look at the actual number of people who do those things. Of course, they still have to estimate what percentage of the total audience that number is; still, it does give them some specific numbers that they didn't have access to before.

Jed Hartman

(I meant to add in my previous note: "...with the proviso that measuring web viewership is still hard-to-impossible, depending on what exactly you're trying to measure.")

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Susan Marie Groppi

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